It's not uncommon for yours truly to come across a new story when working on one that needs to be done now.

I'll conduct an interview for “Story A” and get an answer that sparks the idea for “Story B.” Last summer at the Washington County Fair, I talked to 2019 Rodeo Queen Lauren Schwedhelm and that exact scenario unfolded.

So, here we are. It's a year later and I followed up with a phone call to the Kennard native and Arlington High School grad. You can consider this a 2020 fair rodeo preview, which takes place 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Arlington.

With her mom in mind

Schwedhelm is a South Dakota State Jackrabbit who competes on the rodeo team. She races her horse around barrels and is quick with a lasso in breakaway roping.

Last summer, the county fair rodeo queen told me she rides for her mom who died nine years earlier. Pamela, who was killed in a 2010 car accident, was never around horses until she married Lauren's dad. But, not long before she passed, she was all-in.

Schwedhelm says she has many memories of riding with her mother, who was always taking photos. The daughter still feels grief, but rodeo remains special because of the connection.

In college, Schwedhelm competes in the Great Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

“It's a lot, but a lot of fun,” she said of the schedule.

But with COVID-19, the cowgirl's season and school year in Brookings came to a close early. She's been home in Washington County since spring and only went to her first rodeo of the summer in Clearwater earlier this month.

Even then, though, the former Arlington Eagle was looking forward to the Washington County Fair Rodeo.

“It is a rodeo that I'm excited about,” Schwedhelm said.

The barrel racer expects family and friends to be watching when she makes her run this weekend, which will make memories of her mother even more clear. She's a little nervous — her horse is coming off of a injury — but anticipates a good rodeo at the fairgrounds.

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