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      Rodeo helps rider who lost everything

      Team Roping
      The eighth annual Great Lakes Rodeo wrapped up Sunday.

      The second Grand Entry in the afternoon kicked off the performance. The 2012 Rodeo Queen, Georgie Dohl, led the ceremony by singing the National Anthem. Bull riding was the main attraction, along with events like team roping and bareback riding.

      The rodeo honored bareback rider Jake Gee. He gave a great performance and the crowd loved him. He hasn't competed since 2011, when his Portage, Wisconsin home burned down and he lost everything, including his riding equipment and the awards he won in past Great Lakes Rodeos. Thirty-year-old Gee has won multiple bareback riding events prior to the fire. Rodeo officials presented him with a replica of his 2010 belt buckle, his most recent of several awards that he's won from this rodeo.

      "I found what was left of the buckle from here, and it just reminds you of bad things, and for them to replace it is just really generous, and it just shows you how kind the rodeo community really is," said Gee.

      Gee plans to compete again next year.

      Officials say this rodeo had the biggest turnout ever. For the first time, dads were admitted free on Sunday for Father's Day.

      The Great Lakes Rodeo also crowned the Rodeo Royalty:

      Great Lakes Rodeo Lil Miss: Samantha Fitch, 9, Negaunee

      Great Lakes Rodeo Princess: Gabrielle Wyckoff, 14, Escanaba

      Great Lakes Rodeo Queen: Clara Churchill, 16, Gwinn


      On Saturday, spectators enjoyed team penning.

      Team Penning is one of the newer events in the busy rodeo weekend. Teams of three riders are given a number between one and five and have one minute to get three young cows out of a herd with that number into the pen. Teams are disqualified if too many other numbered cows, or trash, get near the pen. Fastest times win the game. Riders say it's a fun and challenging sport.

      "Well, the cows have a mind of their own and once they get set on something, they're going to go and do that, so it's up to you and your horse to change their mind and get them to go where you want them to go. That's the hardest part," said Stephanie Bahrman, competitive team penner.

      Forty-one teams competed this year. This was the fourth year that team penning has been in the Great Lakes Rodeo.