Techy Trades Laptop For 'Lasso'

Big-city businessman eager volunteer for small-town rodeo

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Lance Welter goes to work everyday in a three-piece suit, laboring in the dot-com world that orbits the Internet. Twice a year, however, he trades his suits and ties for jeans and boots and travels 2,000 miles from Illinois to Payson to volunteer at the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

Welter, 51, has always lived in the prosperous, affluent community of Glenview, Ill., an area that's typically short on cows and cowboys. So what brings a big-city man like Welter to the small town of Payson?

The beer.

His sister, Sue Schmidt.

And the Payson Rodeo Committee's student scholarship fund not necessarily in that order.

For the past two years, Welter has moseyed into town, pushed up his sleeves and worked side-by-side with Schmidt in the rodeo committee's beer booth to raise money for the committee's local scholarship fund.

"One time when I was down here visiting, my sister was complaining that no one ever wanted to help with the rodeo," Welter said. "I told her that if she needed the help, I would volunteer."

That's all the encouragement Schmidt, a die-hard rodeo volunteer, needed.

"I signed him up for the (rodeo) committee immediately," she said.

Although Welter is no match for a bucking bronc or an angry bull, he's not all city slicker.

He co-owns a horse with his cousins in Illinois, and before he began traveling for his job in the early 1990s, he spent the weekends riding.

But to keep pace in the ever-changing world of cyberspace, Welter hung up his saddle and switched to surfing the Web, globtrotting and translating documents into Internet-friendly HTML language.

This weekend, however, Welter will dust off his boots and head over to the Payson Event Center for another round in the beer booth at the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

"I go to dull meetings where all of the men wear three-piece suits, and we sit in a conference room on the 46th floor of a skyscraper, overlooking the Liberty Bell," he said. "You can bet the tone shifts when I say that twice a year, I work a small-town rodeo."

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