Hadley Barrett and Will Rasmussen are loving every minute of it
Over 15,000 people attended the Greeley Stampede rodeo this year and few enjoyed it more than Pro Rodeo announcers Hadley Barrett and Will Rasmussen. “This is the largest 4th of July rodeo in the country,” explains Barrett. “The Stampede is well run and well produced. It’s my hometown rodeo and a real pleasure to be associated with.” Rasmussen is quick to add, “Greeley is a first class rodeo with an excellent facility and great fans. It’s a 10 day event the committee and volunteers spend 355 days preparing for. The end result speaks for itself and I’m lucky to get to be a part of it.”
Rasmussen, from Choteau, Mont., is a member of the famous “Rodeoing Rasmussens” family. His mom is an experienced rodeo timer and his dad a respected announcer. He has one brother that competes and another, Flint, who is an eight time PRCA “Clown of the Year.”
After announcing the rodeo in Greeley for 30 years, Hadley Barrett has become synonymous with the Stampede. The Nebraska native, who now lives outside of Kersey, Colo., is an icon of the sport. The four time PRCA “Announcer of the Year” has been inducted into multiple cowboy halls of fame – including the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame (1999), the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame (2008), and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame (2009).
Both men share a love of the sport with a focus on the business side of it. They know the event competes with other attractions for attendance and revenue and understand that the entertainment value provided by the rodeo is as important to the fans as a fast run or winning ride is to the contestants.
The value Hadley and Will provide stems, in part, from skills polished outside the rodeo arena. Before becoming a full-time announcer Rasmussen gained popularity as a disc jockey in his home state. Barrett gained notoriety in the Midwest as a country singer and musician before dedicating himself to the sport. In fact, his musical career spanned more than 30 years and was punctuated by the induction of his band, known as Hadley Barrett and the Westerners, into the Nebraska Country Music Hall of Fame.
Barrett describes the rodeo announcer’s job this way. “The position of rodeo announcer is unique in the field of sports casting. We wear many hats during an event. Master of Ceremonies, comedian, and entertainer are all roles we play. We have to be able to communicate to those who know the sport, as well as those who may not be familiar with it at all. Most spectators at a baseball or basketball game know at least something about the sport. Not a lot of folks finish supper then decide to go out and ride a bull.” Rasmussen describes his favorite part of the job as, “Getting 5,000 people at the rodeo to have as much fun as I am.” He goes on to add, “Announcers are definitely in the entertainment business. Each of us has a duty to make sure everyone who buys a ticket has a better time than they thought they would. This is what brings people back year after year.”
While the announcers strive to make each performance memorable for the fans, they too have gained some fond memories of the event. Hadley recalls good times spent with partner, John Shipley, and others too numerous to mention. Another memory that has stuck with him involves the rodeo the year following the attacks of September 11, 2001. “We began the rodeo that year by introducing some of the firemen who responded to the attacks. I can’t tell you how long people stood and cheered for those guys, but it was really something.” Rasmussen also has fond memories of his time in Greeley. “The caliber of the fans and opportunity to work alongside one of the legends has been amazing.” He continues, “The people in Greeley have welcomed me with open arms and it’s great to get the opportunity to work alongside Hadley on his home field.”
Rodeo is a family sport (Barrett’s son Trent qualified for the rodeo’s finals in team roping) and both Will and Hadley are dedicated family men. While at home, Will spends time with his wife, Gabrielle, and follows the sports and school related activities of his five children. According to him, “My family members are my biggest fans. I certainly could not do this without them.” Hadley also spends his time off trying to keep up with his family which is made up of six children and wife, Lee. “She’s been a great rodeo partner,” comments Barrett.
The two now consider each other as family after working two years together in Greeley. “Will is a super nice guy and talented partner. He tries to make the rodeo the best it can be,” comments Barrett. “I’ve learned a lot from Hadley,” says Rasmussen. “I work harder now than before because of him. He’s a ‘Rock Star’.”
Be sure to make plans to attend next year’s Greeley Stampede. Will and Hadley will make sure you love every minute of it.