When you attend this year's Snake River Stampede, you'll be treated to an event that few rodeo fans ever get to see outside Treasure Valley. The rodeo has a unique drill team that rides in the dark with lights on their clothing and on their horses. It is a, first-of-its kind creation of former Stampede executive secretary Jimmie Hurley.
She created it in 1997 when the rodeo moved from the beloved old green, outdoor arena on Garrity Blvd. to the air conditioned indoor arena at the Ford Idaho Center in order to give fans something new. Since then, it has been copied by a few rodeos but none has managed to receive the national acclaim that the Nampa drill team has.
The Snake River Stampeders have been invited to perform at the the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas several times. They are the only drill team ever to be invited to ride at the WNFR. The first time they rode at the WNFR was the first year they were organized as a riding group. Since then, the Stampeders have received and accepted invitations to ride at the WNFR in 2000, 2001, 2010, 2014 and 2018. In 2002, they had the privilege to ride at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The fast-paced drill team is made up of women from the Treasure Valley who volunteer their time for practices, riding in parades and performing every night at the Snake River Stampede. These riders are selected by the coaching committee, Jimmie Hurley (Director), Paula Vanhoozer (Coach), and Brandi Krajnik ( Asst. Coach) following a grueling annual audition. There is also a dedicated light crew and set of volunteers comprised of parents and spouses of the riders that donate their time.
"This year the Stampeders are trying something else that has never been done in the dark at any rodeo.. Starting their show will be a Roman rider coming into the arena standing on the backs of two horses, one foot on each horse. She and her horses will come into the darkened arena and make a loop before exiting in between two rows on Stampeders entering the arena. The daring rider is Becky Marchbanks of Parma. She was picked out of the ranks of Stampeders because she had once tried to learn Roman riding. When asked if she could do it in the dark, she said, "I'll try anything once." It has proved to be an event she has learned well and will be a hit of the show," says Hurley.
There is a dedicated light crew and a set of volunteers, usually comprised of parents and spouses of the riders. Travis Miner of New Plymouth, heads the light crew while Paula Vanhoozer of Meridian is the drill master. Her assistant is Brandi Krajnik who is also a team rider.