The Top Rail Saddle Club Give Back Event will have team roping, barrel racing and a ranch rodeo, set for 6 p.m. on Saturday night at the TRSC Rodeo Grounds in Lake City. [Tyler Anderson/The Graphic-Advocate]
Tyler Anderson
The Graphic-Advocate Editor

Top Rail Saddle Club aims to “give back” to the community for Western Days

Editor's Note: In the print edition of The Graphic-Advocate, it was incorrectly stated that the vendor fair begins at 10 a.m., with the parade slated for 2 p.m. These events have been adjusted to their correct times in this story. The Graphic-Advocate seeks to be as accurate as possible when publishing news stories, sports recaps and press releases.

Traditionally, Lake City’s annual Western Days celebration stretches from the last Friday of June to the final Sunday of the sixth month of the year. Two of those days, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, feature the cowboys and cowgirls who take over the Top Rail Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds, who intend to provide fierce competition and entertainment for those who take a seat on the bleachers and enjoy the events.

This year has not been like any other year, for obvious reasons.

As late as the middle of May, the Top Rail Saddle Club – one of the few volunteer rodeo organizations within the state of Iowa – weighed its options of either putting on the rodeo or pushing it back to next year.

As many events, such as the Iowa State Fair, have taken a backseat to wait for the dust to settle, the TRSC decided to strap on their spurs and put matters into their own hands.

After six decades of the community lending its hand to mold Western Days into the big celebration that it is today, the TRSC felt that it was time to show its gratitude. The club is planning to follow through on that promise, by offering a free ranch rodeo with the biggest fireworks show in the area.

The concept, which will take visitors back when rodeos were competitions between real cowboys and cowgirls who worked their horses and cattle herds, has TRSC Treasurer Nancy Janssen excited for this coming Saturday.

Officially, it has been christened as the Top Rail Saddle Club Give Back Event. The event, which takes place at the TRSC Rodeo Grounds in the northern portion of Lake City, is free for the public.

“We’re having a one day event,” Janssen said of what’s on tap for this weekend. “The gates will open at 5 p.m., with the show scheduled to start at 6 p.m. It should end by the time it’s completely dark at 10:30 p.m. At that time, we’ll have our awesome fireworks show that the community helped us pay for.”

The grounds would also have a concession stand and beer garden, as the event will include barrel racing, team roping and a ranch rodeo – which is quite popular in the western and southwestern parts of the United States.

“The ranch rodeo is a different type of rodeo than what people are used to seeing,” Janssen said of the concept. “Rodeo was originally started as a contest between different ranches to do some of things that the cowboys had to do on the ranch – such as roping, branding, sorting, putting cattle in a pen, breaking horses and all of those types of things.”

“Over the years, the rodeos expanded to include bullriding, which we’ve come to associate with the sport,” Janssen continued. “That was something that wasn’t part of the ranch’s original duties. What you will see is more of those functions that cowboys and cowgirls still do out on the ranch.”  

Instead of the individuality of the modern-day rodeo, the ranch rodeo showcases teams of four people who compete in four to five different competitions. Each team of four people have to compete in every event within the ranch rodeo.

“They win as a team, and they lose as a team,” Janssen said of the team-orientated event. “It replicates what is still done on the ranch today. It’ll be a lot of fun, and it’s something that a lot of people haven’t seen before.”

At a ranch rodeo, you’ll see the same faces competing in different events.

While things are a bit different, the members of the TRSC are grateful to have Lake City’s backing, even during a pandemic. Due to the success of the club’s annual Mother’s Day Breakfast and assistance from around Lake City, the club spent twice as much on fireworks, compared to past years.

“The support from the community has been unbelievable this year,” Janssen said. “Our sponsors have really stepped up, and told us that they want to help in putting on the rodeo. Gus Macke is providing the added prize money for the cowboys and cowgirls, while other businesses have also stepped up in a big way.”

In fact, Janssen said that there are more sponsors this year than the event has ever had. The prelude to the Give Back Event, which is the Western Days Parade and vendor fair, also drew praise from the club. The parade requires no registration on a first come, first serve basis, and will allow candy to be thrown.

“We’re very appreciative that the (Lake City Betterment Association) took on pulling a parade and vendor show together to make the event as great as a one day event can be,” Janssen said. “It’s just been awesome, all around.”

Thanks to the sponsorships and community efforts, the club has been able to handle its expenses and prepare for next year, when Western Days will return to form. However, there’s a silver lining, according to Janssen.

“We’re all moving in the same direction to put this on,” said Janssen. “This event will be outstanding for anyone who wants to come and enjoy it. It’ll be free, unless you want something to eat or drink, and so you can bring the family. It’s very kid friendly, too.”

For the meantime, the TRSC is determined to make 2020’s Western Days an event to remember.

“Come and join us, because we can stand up to COVID-19 and the division in our country,” Janssen said. “Social distance, if you must, since we’re outside and there’s plenty of room to do so. By coming to the event, we can stick it to the man and give it back to the people.”

“For 60 years, the people from this area have come out and supported our rodeo,” Janssen added. “This year, because of COVID-19 and all of the other stuff that’s happening, we decided to take a year off and give back. We want to give back to the community that has been so good to us.”

Once the dust settles on the grounds on Saturday night, the TRSC will aim to have Rodeo 61 in 2021.


Western Days, Lake City

List of Scheduled Events

Saturday, June 27, 2020

9 a.m.                         Vendor Fair opens

1:30 p.m.                    Western Days Parade

3 p.m.                         Vendor Fair closes

6 p.m.                         Top Rail Saddle Club Give Back Event

10:30 p.m.                  Fireworks


The Graphic-Advocate

The Graphic-Advocate 
121 North Center St.
Lake City, IA 51449
Phone: 712-464-3188

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit for more information.