OMAK — A familiar lineup of arena entertainers and safety personnel will be joined this year by a new specialty act, Cowgirl Sweethearts — Haley Ganzel and Lindy Nealey-Lica.
Bullfighters Eric Schwindt will return, along with clown/barrelman J.J. Harrison, and bullfighter Logan Blasdell.
Nealey-Lica, 28, of Bloomington, Ill., has performed in rodeos, wild West shows and dinner theaters for more than half of her life.
She graduated with a degree in environmental science from the University of Illinois, and after graduation was asked to perform stunt work on the film ‘Cowgirls and Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer’.
Nealey is an accomplished trick rider and roman rider. She appeared as a trick rider at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where she had performed more than 800 shows a year.
Ganzel, 24, of Collinsville, Okla., has been trick riding since the age of for, after learning the trade from her uncle, NFR contract act Shawn Brackett.
Ganzel’s passion for trick riding and performing began when she was young and had the opportunity to travel with the Great American Wild West Show to many of the greatest rodeo venues in the United States.
In 2007, Ganzel was crowned as the 2007 World Champion Trick Rider; she also competed in the 2016 North American Trick Riding Championships in Las Vegas and had a role and performed stunt work in the films ‘Cowgirls and Angels’ and ‘Cowgirls and Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer’.
Schwindt, 27, is a native of Modesto, Calif., and grew up in Lyons, Ore.
He said he watched his older brother ride bulls and later a friend, Jesse Tennet, fight bulls. He attended a Danny Newman school and was hooked.
He has been a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association member since September 2011.
Harrison, 44, is another Stampede returnee. The Okanogan High School graduate, who now lives in Walla Walla is known for his wild antics, dancing and inflatable “fat” suits.
Harrison found an interest in rodeo in high school, which led to his being on the Washington State University Rodeo team.
“I tried all events but bull riding was what I really love” he said. “But due to the fact I’m a big sissy, I stuck with roping.”
He has taught middle school for eight years and enjoys every second he spends with kids.
“I never want to grow up and the best way to do that is hang with kids,” he said.
He has become one of the most sought after rodeo clowns in the Northwest and shows no signs of stopping.
“I always worry that people will someday realize it’s not an act,” he said. “It’s just who I am.”
Blasdell, 28, ofPrineville, Ore., will join this year’s safety personnel lineup.
Blasdell attended Feather River College from 2009-2011 and studied agricultural business. Blasdell has been bullfighting professionally with the PRCA since 2012.
In 2016, Blasdell married his wife, Kaley Mae Hook, who is the owner of KMH bucking bulls in Shandon, Calif. In 2017, the couple welcomed a son named Ridge Thomas Blasdell.