Despite the sweltering heat, the parking lot at the Washington County Fairgrounds began to fill up as the kickoff of the Washington County Fair's Grand River Rodeo drew near.
Over an hour before the rodeo began, people began to set down lawn chairs to claim their spots to see the action and started to find seats on the bleachers in the grandstand. Quite a few ate dinner from fair food stands before the rodeo began.
The events in the rodeo included bareback, saddlebronc, bull riding, calf roping, over 40 calf roping, breakaway roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing.
Many of the gathering audience members were families who came out to enjoy the fair, which featured lots of livestock shows, 4-H exhibits and kids’ activities earlier in the day.
Friends Myrissa Garber of Keokuk and Makenna Spillman of Ft. Dodge were in attendance at the Washington County Fair rodeo with a singular purpose: to see their boyfriends compete in the rodeo.
While they couldn't be sure of the outcome of the competition, they said they were sure one of them would come out on top.
Both of their boyfriends ride bareback, they said. Garber's boyfriend has been competing for three years, and Spillman's has been competing for six years.
"Sometimes you get really nervous, but mostly I find (watching her boyfriend compete) exciting," Garber said.
Jim Munn of Washington said he comes out to the fair every year he can. When asked about his favorite part of the fair, he enthusiastically said, "The food!" and gave a special mention to the pork burgers.
Munn also said he enjoys coming to see the rodeo each year.
While the occasional injury has occured to rodeo participants over the years, Munn said the organizers do a good job to ensure the safety of the everyone competing.
"You don't know quite what you're ever going to see at the rodeo," he said.