PALMER — Rodeo Alaska drew in record-breaking crowds during their Memorial Day weekend season opener at the Alaska State Fairgrounds.

“We’ve had record crowds this weekend. I’m just so happy and blessed to bring this to Palmer,” Rodeo Alaska owner Frank Koloski said.

The four-day long festival marked a historic milestone for Rodeo Alaska and the sport itself in Alaska with “The Northernmost Xtreme Bulls” event sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association for the first time in the state.

“They want to grow on that… I’m still waiting to wake from this dream,” Koloski said.

Koloski said they had to cancel numerous events and held scaled down events in 2020 due to COVID-19. He said this packed weekend with enthusiastic crowds and this major PRCA milestone left him very confident in Rodeo Alaska’s future, brimming with possibilities for new events, and further expansions, and continued collaborations under a shared love for the sport, the lifestyle, and most importantly, the people.

“God has a plan for everybody… This is a testimonial of someone who started out small… This is the path,” Koloski said.

The weekend was filled with rodeo events featuring riders of all ages and backgrounds from across the state. Seasoned Rodeo Alaska rider Linda Perkins said the state Fairgrounds made for an ideal and picturesque environment for the weekend in spite of the windy, rainy weather.

“This is the most beautiful view. No place like this. And the people? The best,” Perkins said.

Perkins said that she’s been involved with Rodeo Alaska since its inception. She said her favorite aspects of the organization is their youth involvement and their constant support to the U.S. military.

“It’s an All-American sport,” Perkins said. “We didn’t have rodeo for a long time [in Alaska] and they brought it back.”

Perkins said that she almost lost her hand several years ago during a rodeo event. She said they were able to reattach her hand, and she got back in the saddle as soon as she could.

“I do it for my lord and savior Jesus Christ. Never give up,” Perkins said. “It’s a passion. We all have our passions.”

Fifteen-year-old rider, Kailyn Beauvais said this is her second year with Rodeo Alaska. She said she’s been riding horses since she was 6, and her father used to be a bull rider. She said that she’s been very busy training her horse, Shooter, and getting him comfortable with the competitive atmosphere with all the loud excitement.

“He’s a big puppy... He’s a baby,” Beauvais said with a laugh.

Beauvais said that she joined in pursuing her passion for barrel racing and other rodeo sports, and the ceaseless stream of support from its members motivated her to stay.

“There’s always someone there to help,” Beauvais said.

Liz Dubbe said that she’s been with Rodeo Alaska for the last four years, letting her newfound hobby bloom.

“It’s a bucket list thing for me,” Dubbe said.

Dubbe said that she never grew up with horses, or anything like that, but she’s always wanted a horse. She said that she’s had endless support from other members with more established equipment and resources, helping her with transportation, general advice and everything in between.

“I just love being around the horses. I love being around the people. It’s family,” Dubbe said.

For more information about Rodeo Alaska, visit rodeoalaska.com.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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