The excitement of pro rodeo returns to North Platte with this year’s Buffalo Bill Rodeo, where more than 500 professional cowboys and cowgirls will compete as they pursue the dream of a gold buckle and monetary winnings.

They come from near and far; a few will travel across town or across a couple counties, while some call Hawaii and Australia home.

Stacey Hansen

North Platte cowgirl and school teacher Stacey Hansen doesn’t have many miles to travel to run barrels.

The 43-year-old grew up in Smolan, Kan. and moved to North Platte in 2007 when she married her husband, Trent Hansen.

She’s barrel raced since she was a young girl, competing mostly at jackpot events and a few rodeos.

This year will be her first at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. She said has a horse with the skills to do well at the professional level.

Slingshot, a 10-year-old bay gelding, was purchased by Hansen five years ago. He learned the barrel pattern, and she’s getting him “comfortable in the atmosphere so he can do his job and not be nervous.”

Rodeos have a different ambience than jackpot events: they can be louder with more people around.

Slingshot’s personality is “a bit watchy,” she said. “He shies at things.”

Hansen will ride Slingshot to the arena before the show starts, letting him look around so he will feel more comfortable when it’s time to race.

She and Trent have two daughters: Haidyn, who is 14, and Harper, age 8. Haidyn races sprint cars while Harper likes the horse activities. She and her husband “split forces” on the weekends; Trent takes Haidyn to her races, while Harper goes with her mom.

The girls’ different interests require lots of fuel, as each parent takes them to their activities.

“We need a fuel sponsor,” Hansen laughed.

Hansen teaches at Adams Middle School in North Platte. She will compete during slack on Thurs., June 13.

Garrett Shadbolt

For Merriman bareback rider Garrett Shadbolt, last year didn’t go as planned.

Two-time Champion Bareback Rider Garrett Shadbolt. Photo by Don Christner

After competing at the Wrangler National Finals the previous two years, he broke his leg in June 2023 while rafting down the Niobrara River, just a week before the Buffalo Bill Rodeo started.

By the time it was healed, the majority of the rodeo season was over and it would have taken a lot to catch up with the top 15 riders and qualify for the national finals, so he stayed home.

Now Shadbolt is back on the circuit. He did well at the winter rodeos, winning the National Western Rodeo in Denver and finishing as reserve champ at Rodeo Houston. The pace of rodeos is slow in the spring, but the season is about to kick off in earnest.

“I’m entered pretty seriously over the Fourth of July,” he said. “I’m just going to have to go do the thing, and be gone a while.”

Being gone from home is getting harder for him. He and wife Katie have three kids, a son and two daughters, under the age of four.

Leaving the ranch, where he is the fifth generation of Shadbolts, is hard, but once he gets on the road, it gets easier.

“Once I get going and stay out (on the road), it’s easier than coming back and forth,” he said.

The 28-year-old has won the Buffalo Bill Rodeo twice (2021-22) and is ranked seventh in the world standings.

Sam Daly

Like barrel racer Hansen, Sam Daly will take his first stab at competition at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo.

Sam Daly of Tryon. Courtesy photo

The 19-year-old grew up in Tabor, Iowa, with his mom, Elizabeth Shirley, but spent holidays and summers with his dad, Mike Daly, on the family ranch near Tryon.

A steer wrestler, Daly competed in high school rodeo in Iowa and qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo all four years of high school.

Competing in the pro ranks is different than high school and college, Daly said. For one, it’s tougher competition.

“It’s a jump from the small-town guys up to the big (name) guys,” he said. But it’s also motivating.

“When you see a steer wrestler go out there and be four (seconds) flat, you’re cheering for him,” he said, “but at the same time, you’re wanting to out there and be a 3.9. You want to work all the harder to match him.”

Daly is a student at Pratt (Kan.) Community College, rodeoing collegiately and majoring in animal science. He is the grandson of Art Daly, a rancher, rodeo announcer and musician who passed away in 2014.

The rodeo competition kicks off Wednesday, June 12 and runs each night through June 15. Shows begin at 8 p.m. All events are held at the Wild West Arena in North Platte.

Slack, the extra competition that doesn’t fit into the evening performances, is on June 12-13 at 8 a.m. each morning.

Tickets range in price from $11-24 and can be purchased online at, or at the NebraskalandDays office, and at the gate.

For more information and a complete schedule of NebraskalandDays events, visit the website or call the office at 308.532.7939.

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