By Amira Khatib, Greater Des Moines CVB Intern
A hundred years ago, rodeo fans didn’t see an instant replay on the screen, let alone have the ability to check scores later on their computer if they missed anything. Although rodeo is a sport with major roots in our history, over time the way events are run has changed as technology has advanced. And with a new host city and venue also comes the opportunity to upgrade the technology used.
Bryan Taylor, the main IT guy for NHRSA, created a special computer program for the rodeo in 1989 (yes, 25 years ago). He has been upgrading and adding features as the rules and technology have changed. The program allows for easy data input, such as keeping track of scores and contestants’ biographical information for the announcers.
“The biggest and best change so far is networking to each other so we can get the information back and forth,” said Bryan. They no longer have to run the information back and forth by hand, and can enter it from a remote location.
Many contestants might not even be aware of one new piece of technology being used this year. Widmer’s Rock ‘N Roll Arena (cowgirlsportsstore.com), a company based in Deep River, Iowa, installed green dot lasers in the Jacobson arena. The lasers replace the stakes that are traditionally used to mark the position of the barrels and poles in barrel racing and pole bending.
Although red dot lasers have been around for a while, the green dot lasers are a fairly new technology. They are stronger, and are best used for outdoor and high natural light applications. Jacobson is an indoor arena, but because of its clear ceiling it’s filled with natural light – making the green dot lasers a better option. The tractors no longer worry about looking for the stakes and positioning the barrels and poles is as easy as flipping a switch.
“It’s perfect. They make things quicker and there’s no chance for error. There’s no worries,” said Shannon Widmers, owner of Widmer’s Rock ‘N Roll Arena.
However, the biggest visible change to contestants and spectators this year is the installation of the first jumbotrons at the junior high level. The Jacobson arena features a 32’ by 12’ screen while the Pavilion has a 24’ by 8’ screen. The jumbotron is split with half the screen showing events happening in that arena and the other half featuring a live feed of the activities in the other arena. Now friends and family can catch all of the action in both arenas at the same time.