OTTUMWA — The Greater Ottumwa Rodeo is doubling the fun this weekend.

Now in its fourth year, the event has added Friday night activities highlighted by performances by trick rider Dusta Kimzey of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association.

“This is the first time we will have this quality of act at our rodeo,” said Shea Greiner, vice president of engagement and organizational advancement of Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress. “She’ll put on a fantastic show.”

But the action doesn’t stop there. ”Rogue Rodeo puts on a great show,” said Greiner. “The rodeo contestants will be ready to run. This is only about the second rodeo they’ve been able to do this year.”

With the rodeo being one of the first big community events since COVID-19 caused shutdowns nationwide, she also said it will offer families a great time while enjoying the outdoors. “Bring your family and friends out to the first big event that’s happening in Ottumwa,” said Greiner.

“Everything’s moving forward as planned,” she said. “Seating is provided, but we are highly encouraging everyone to bring their own chairs.”

Greiner said organizers are following public health guidelines as well as providing hand sanitizer stations. Social distancing will be encouraged — “That’s why we’re encouraging people to bring their own chairs and stay in the own family groups,” she said.

Signage reminding people of protocols will be posted, and they’re encouraging pre-purchase of tickets.

“It wasn’t hard to make the decision,” Greiner said of moving forward with the event as scheduled. “It was really up to public health and emergency management. I’ve been in close contact with them, so it wasn’t a big issue.”

Friday night is dubbed family fun night. “We have added Friday night. That’s the really exciting thing we’ve done,” she added. Kids activities will be held in the arena, such as ribbon pulling, a boot race and stick horses, and slack will follow the main event.

Gates open at 4 p.m. both nights with opening ceremonies, featuring Pastor Bill Hornback performing the National Anthem and offering a prayer, and rodeo main events at 6 p.m. Kimzey will perform both evenings as well.

Saturday’s event falls on Independence Day, so the city’s fireworks are scheduled to follow the rodeo around 9:30 p.m. Saturday’s event also features celebrity chute riding.

“We always have it every Fourth of July weekend,” said Greiner. “It just so happens the Fourth of July fell on the weekend. We are honoring the red, white and blue, and any military — active or retired — gets in free. “Well have the American flag flying everywhere.”

Greiner said the rodeo will go on rain or shine. “The good thing is, there’s no rain in the forecast, not one iota.”

Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

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Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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