BULLS IN K-TOWN: rodeo team lassos fans

Capt. Erin Dorrance
Kaiserslautern American

They wear cowboy hats, ride bulls and attract hundreds to their rodeo events throughout Germany. They are the Kaiserslautern Rodeo Team, a club that has been active in the KMC since the 1970s.

The club, which includes about 25 members, consists of people who have grown up in the rodeo lifestyle their entire lives and others who have always wanted to be part of a rodeo team but never before had a chance.

“I’m not a cowboy,” said Tech. Sgt. Karl “Slim” Bechthold. “But when I heard the club existed, I definitely wanted to try it – and I fell in love with it.”

Sergeant Bechthold, president of the Kaiserslautern Rodeo Team and assigned to the 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron, said the club travels throughout Germany participating in rodeos that can draw anywhere from 50 to 1,500 people throughout the rodeo season which runs from April through October.  
When not at rodeos, the club is active in the KMC, educating children about rodeos with their bucking barrel demonstrator, he said.

For many, the club doesn’t just give members an opportunity to participate in rodeos, it provides an extended family.

“I know that I can count on anyone in the group,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Fellows, Kaiserslautern Rodeo Team rough stock director and assigned to the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron. “Being part of this club has made it easier to be so far away from home.”

Sergeant Fellows joined the club to learn how to ride a bull. He has had approximately 15 bull rides over the past two years. During that time he is proud to say that he stayed on the bull twice for the eight-second time required for a bull ride to qualify to be judged, he said.
The Boise-native bull rider also participates in the wild horse and rescue race events.  He said his wife does not worry about him as she is also part of the club and actively participates in rodeos. She races barrels and participates in pole bending, as well as serving as the club’s stock handler, responsible for loading the chutes, he said. 

Regardless of a person’s experience, sergeants Bechthold and Fellows both agreed that anyone can join the club and experience rodeos from the front line. 

If interested in joining the club or attending one of their upcoming rodeos, visit their Web site at www.ktownrodeo.com.