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Photos: Alaska State Fair Rodeo 2014

A team roping competitor looks to rope the head of a steer. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Austin Stratman of Kodiak tapes up his arms before his bareback bronc ride at the start of the rodeo. This is the second summer that Stratman, 18, has competed in Alaska rodeos. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Dea Kneale cleans out horseshoes for her horse, Hank. Kneale said was going to compete in breakaway roping, the first rodeo event she has entered in 22 years. "It's hard to watch and not want to do it," she said. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Austin Stratman leaves the chute on horse Buzz Lightyear during bareback riding. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Steven Toney drags a steer to the ground during double mugging competition. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Shelly Bindon rounds her third barrel in the barrel racing event. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Bart Locke of Willow spends time with his one-year-old son, Willie, before the start of the rodeo. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Lance Lacey rides out of the chute during the saddle bronc event. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Daniel Maciariello thanks another competitor for some pointers on bareback bronc riding before he tries the event for the first time. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
The Alaska state flag is carried into the ring. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Competitors warm up before the start of the rodeo. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Jake Fowler rides in the barrel racing event. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Dominic Giorgi, of Oakdale, California, traveled to Palmer to be the State Fair's rodeo clown. Giorgi says he does more than 40 rodeos a year. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Steven Toney tries to hold on during his bull ride. The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway on Saturday afternoon, August 23, 2014 in Palmer. About 90 cowboys and cowgirls competed in riding, racing and roping events at the France Equestrian Center on the fairgrounds. The State Fair Rodeo continues Sunday, August 24.
Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News
Marc Lester

The Alaska State Fair Rodeo got underway Saturday with a record field of 90 cowboys and cowgirls, who will compete in two days of roping, riding and racing at the Palmer fairgrounds.

Organizer Charlie Willis, who has been involved with the rodeo every year for nearly 40 years, either as a competitor or an organizer, says the sport in Alaska has largely remained the same over the years, but one thing he has noticed is more interest among young people.

One of those young people is 18-year-old Austin Stratman of Kodiak, the first bareback rider to compete Saturday. Stratman taped up his arms with the hope that would relieve stress on his muscles as he tried to hold on when Buzz Lightyear bucked out of the chute.

Stratman said he used to ride bulls, but switched to broncs because he didn’t like the thought of getting hooked by a bull’s horn. “I don’t want to get messed up too bad,” he said. 

Rodeo clown Dominic Giorgi of Oakdale, California, feels his pain. He broke a dozen bones during his career as a bull rider and bullfighter, but things got a little easier when he became a clown.

 “It’s definitely a young man’s sport,” he said.

Giorgi  is making his second appearance at the Alaska State Fair Rodeo, one of more than 40 rodeos he works at each year in addition to his day job as a diesel mechanic. 

Dea Kneale of Wasilla also has a tough time staying away from rodeo. She’s entered in breakaway roping, her first rodeo in 22 years, she said. After years of watching, she decided to give it another shot.

“I’m not getting any younger,” Kneale said. “It’s hard to watch and not want to do it.”

The rodeo wraps up Sunday at 2 p.m.