Five people were inducted into the St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame Monday.
Lawrence Bunning, Mel Hyland, Jean Manegre, Justin McKee and Flint Rasmussen make up the 2014 class.
Bunning, who is deceased, was born and raised in St. Paul and spent 19 years on the St. Paul Rodeo Board of Directors through the 1940s-1960s. He farmed with his wife, Mary (Brentano) Bunning, and they hosted many St. Paul Rodeo queens at their home through the years. In the early days of the rodeo, when money was tight, the bank often required the directors to personally sign for loans for each years rodeo.
For Bunning, this was no problem. At least once, he gave ticket chairman Donna Smith a personal blank check and told her to buy what was needed.
He and Mary had no children, and their brother Lesters daughters were like children to him.
He was a neat uncle, niece Norma Frith remembers. I loved him. He drove school bus for a while, and I used to wash his school bus.
Mel Hyland, of High Prairie, Alberta, Canada, was a saddle bronc rider who won the St. Paul Rodeo three times (1971-72 and 1976) and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association world title in 1972 and 1976. He qualified for the PRCAs National Finals Rodeo 11 times, and the Canadian National Finals Rodeo several times, winning the Canadian title four times, and the bareback title in 1975. His stepson, Austin Beasley, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in 1997 as a bull rider.
Jean Manegre moved to St. Paul in 1944 when she married her husband Bill. Bills dad and uncle were both directors, so becoming a rodeo association member was natural. For years, she served on the trail ride committee and was ticket committee co-chair also.
Mom enjoyed working on the rodeo committees immensely, her daughter Linda Sedlock said.
This will be the first year that Manegre, who is 92, will miss the rodeo; she has attended it every year since 1944. Sedlock remembers, as a child, seeing her mom on the Fourth of July.
Id go to the rodeo office, shed come out and say hi, and go back to work. Sedlock recalls that her grandfather Jess Manegre and his brother Ray would go to the woods surrounding St. Paul to get the little trees that are planted in the arena each year. Now, instead of trees from the woods adorning the arena, arborvitae are planted there.
Announcer Justin McKee has called the St. Paul Rodeo for 12 years, among other major PRCA rodeos, including Cheyenne, Wyoming, Pendleton, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and was honored to be inducted.
I don't think Im qualified to be inducted into any hall of fame, he said, including the McKee hall of fame, if there was one. I feel guilty when there are hundreds of people who have donated their time for the rodeo, and I go in there and get paid. Im honored, but Im not worthy.
His wife, Jeannie, and daughter, Kassidy, age 14, will be in St. Paul for the induction.
Im excited for that, the Lenepah, Okla., man said. Theyve never been to St. Paul, and I can't wait to show them around.
The fifth person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is rodeo clown and barrel man Flint Rasmussen. Rasmussen, of Choteau, Mont., worked the St. Paul Rodeo for six years.
He was honored eight consecutive years as the PRCAs Clown of the Year, and seven times earned the Coors Man in the Can award. In 2005, he accepted an exclusive contract with the Pro Bull Riders and now works those events only. St. Paul is fortunate to have Flint return to run the arborvitae for the PBR event, which will be July 1 at 8 p.m.
The induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame was held along with the steak barbecue Monday. The evening also included musical entertainment, a live auction and Wild West Art Show preview.
The evening kicked off the weeks PBR and rodeo performances, which run through Saturday. Tickets are available through the ticket office at 800-237-5920.