Western Fest 2021 hits Granite Falls with record setting attendance

Jess Gorman
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune

The 2021 Western Fest rodeo has concluded with record setting attendance after a year off from the annual event. " It was an atmosphere of celebration, life and community," said one event organizer John McCosh. The Western Fest committee confirmed, this year set a new attendance record for the event with 5,200 attendees hitting the stands over the event's three days. The former attendance record was 4,400 rodeo patrons.

Heather Richter, Kaitlyn Wollman, Nash Richter and Elanya Kling are all smiles in the roaring crowd.

Local celebrity and big name in the rodeo circuit, Tanner Aus, took first place in the bare back riding competition, receiving $1800 in prize money for the event win.  A total of $58,898 in prize awards was given out to cowboys and cowgirls who competed in the seven PRCA rodeo categories. Another Minnesota made rider, Alyssa Gabrielson, took home first in barrel racing. Alyssa came from Perham, Minnesota to compete in the Granite Falls event. Three Minnesota Cowboys, Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Kyle Bloomquist of Raymond, and Tyler Berghuis of Atwater, all placed in the top eight of the bareback competition. 

Tanner Aus at Western Fest 2021.
Tanner Aus greets rodeo guests.

“The crowd was wild with an authentic excitement” said McCosh, who believed the year off from the event due to Covid-19 cancellations, built even more anticipation for the rodeo. The event has stood as the 3rd largest rodeo in the state. Considering the rate of increase for this year's attendance, Granite Falls could give the number two place holder a run for their money in the future.  

The Westerfest raffle saw big winners as follows: Doug Ramirez-$10,000, Lucy Balfany-$5,000, Cole Richter-$2,500, Antonio Leos-$1,000, Stephanie Neuman-$1,000, Greg Meyer-$750, Janice Hagen-$750, Delain Olson-$500, Herb Calley-$500, David & Saralee Kietzmann-$500, James Miller-$250, Jeanna Schmidt-$250, Wayne & Jonell Hoff-$250, Nicole Brusven-$250, Nancy & Dallas Ross-$250, Kurt Luschen-$200, Jen Levitz-$200, Irene Rupp-$200, Lisa Streich-$200, Nathan Schmidt-$200, Brandon Renneke-$150, Pat Sederstrom-$150, Nancy Knudson-$150, Leon Curley-$150, Diane Picht-$150, Scott Schake -$100, Barrett Eggebraaten-$100, Scott Bjorndal-$100, Nick Pelke-$100, Sarah Fagen-$100, D & T-$100, Lisa Knutson-$100, Jackie Torvik-$100, Jean Fagnano-$100, Elaine Johnson-$100, Tom Balfany-$100, Ken Podratz-$100, Sherry Mathiowetz-$100, Amy Richter-$100, Jon Rambow-$100, Tom Fromm-$50, Clifford Johnson-$50, Judi Bohm-$50, Rob Kietzmann-$50, Cheryl & Dave Obrien-$50, Lynette Bakker-$50, Pearl Lenzen-$50, Nick Lindstrom-$50, Carol Beck-$50 and Tom Fromm-$50.

Western Fest Parade in downtown Granite Falls.
Phil Kelly commands Project Turnabout float with cheer at Western Fest parade.

“Everything went really well, really it was perfect. There were no hiccups or downfalls.” explained organizer Holly Johnson. The committee said even with all the success there's always room for improvement, and wheels are already churning for efficiencies to make next year an even bigger success. 

The GF American Legion crew was ready to serve the mass crows that meandered downtown for festivities.