Thirty years of high school rodeo in West Fargo
Rodeo riders and fans from all over the state will converge on West Fargo this weekend as the 30th annual Sheyenne Red River High School Rodeo takes place indoors at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, sponsored by the Sheyenne Red River Rodeo Club. The event has grown to be so successful through the years, that it has earned the distinction of being the oldest, continuously running high school rodeo in the state.
Two separate rodeo events are scheduled for Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24, in Schollander Pavilion. Rodeo Slack performances will get underway at 8 a.m. each day; Rodeo performances at 2 p.m. each day; and Cutting Competition at 6 p.m. Saturday only.
Five local contestants, along with hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls from around the state, will be competing this year in twelve events including bareback riding, breakaway roping, calf roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, goat tying, team roping, pole bending, bull riding, and both cowboy and cowgirl cutting. A total of thirty first place buckles will be awarded during the two days of rodeo action.
Local participants are Tyler Bruun and Bruce Lehman, a junior and senior respectively at West Fargo High School, both competing in bull riding; Colore Sveum, a junior at Fargo South, competing in team roping; Sara Albaugh, a senior from Central Cass, competing in barrel racing and pole bending; and Molly Brag, a junior from Kindred, competing in barrel racing, goat tying, and pole bending.
Dale Chilson, Sheyenne Red River Rodeo Club member and one of the annual organizers of the event, said the total number of contestants involved has been growing the last couple of years. Each year we seem to have more contestants for the different events.
The Sheyenne Rodeo Club is approximately 30 members strong, comprised of members from the local areas. Key people working with Chilson on promoting the event are Gene Johnson, LeRoy Johnson, Duke Samson and Gary Duggan. Many of us have been involved for 25 to 30 years, Chilson said. It takes a lot of people to put the rodeo on and everything always seems to fall in place once we get going. Everyone pretty much knows what they have to do, so it turns out to be a pretty smooth running operation.
Chilson said that most of the members no longer have children in high school, but continue to be involved because of their love of the event. We just all really enjoy it. It is a very worthwhile program in that we are doing something for the kids. A lot of work goes into it, but it is a lot of fun. To see the whole thing come together is very gratifying.
The group is responsible for coordinating everything involved with the rodeo, from making sure the arena is set up, to hiring the stock contractor, to securing sponsorships and printing the programs. We sell tickets and advertising for the programs and secure sponsors for all thirty of the buckles, Chilson said. Saturday is one rodeo and Sunday is completely different. If contestants do well in both they can get points in both.
Each year, several local individuals and businesses step up to the plate as special boosters. Chilson said his club is most grateful for the role these sponsors play, saying they are vital to the success of the annual rodeo event. The sponsors are extremely important.
Because of the Sheyenne Red River High School Rodeo clubs dedication, they received state recognition three years ago as the best high school rodeo in the state, a feat Chilson described as quite an honor. It was a great feeling to earn this award.
There will also be special memorial tributes this year to Don Hart and Dean Erickson, both avid horse lovers and longtime members of the Sheyenne Red River Rodeo Club, who passed away this last year.
Gene Johnson will serve as announcer for the Rodeo activity on Saturday and Sunday. Sheyenne Red River Rodeo Club officers are Rock Rustad, president; Ron Bjorland, vice president; Bonnie Peterson, secretary; and Melody Shawchuck, treasurer. Directors are Marv Martel, Brad Forness, Bruce Kautzman, Don Krogh and Vic Muscha.
The rodeo is sanctioned by the National High School Rodeo Association. Tickets will be available at the door.