September 11, 2013

NDRA Finals comes to town

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

The event North Dakota rodeo enthusiasts wait for every year is finally here. The 2013 NDRA Championship Rodeo Finals will be this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13 and 14, at the McKenzie County Multi-Purpose Building located on the McKenzie County Fairgrounds.
This two-day event, sponsored by Phillips Energy Partners, LLC, gives the top 12 North Dakota Rodeo contestants in nine standard events a chance to compete for NDRA Rodeo Championship titles. Nine of the competing finalists hail from McKenzie County and they have put a lot of hard work into earning a spot in the finals.
However, according to finalist Allene Nelson, if you love what you do, then it’s not really work.
“I came from a rodeo family, both mine and my husband’s,” states Nelson. “We all love the sportsmanship and the fact that it is like a big family. You know the people that compete, and you know they are there for you both inside the arena and out.”
Nelson will be competing in the Barrel Racing event with her horse, Blaze. She has owned Blaze for four years and spends a lot of time bonding with him.
“I love animals overall and I have always loved horses. But I mostly love the idea that you can bond with a horse and get it to compete and enjoy it,” states Nelson. “It is really amazing.”
Another competitor, Les Haugen, has made it to the NDRA Finals for his second year in a row. His children were all involved in rodeo growing up, but once they were grown, Haugen decided to get into it for himself after defeating a bout with cancer.
Last year, Haugen competed with his daughter, Tess, in the Team Roping event. But this year, he will compete individually in the Senior Men’s Breakaway event.
Bill Jorgenson has also made it to the NDRA Finals for his second year in a row, as has his daughter, Sam.
Last year, Sam was a senior at Watford City High School, and together, she and her father competed in the Team Roping event.
This year, the two will compete as individuals in two separate events. Sam will compete in the Ladies Breakaway event and Bill will compete in the Senior Men’s Breakaway.
Other McKenzie County finalists are Brady Hanna, of Alexander, competing in the Bareback Riding event; Scott Hoovestol, of Watford City, competing in Calf Roping; Cally Eckroth, of Watford City, competing in Ladies Breakaway; Jim Hansen, of Watford City, competing in Steer Wrestling; and Layne Carson, of Grassy Butte, competing in Team Roping.
The nine competitive events include Bareback Riding, Calf Roping, Ladies Breakaway, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, Senior Men’s Breakaway, and always a crowd pleaser, Bull Riding.
As part of this big rodeo weekend, the Watford City High School Rodeo Team will be hosting a high school rodeo on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The NDRA Jackpot Team Roping will be held in the outdoor arena at 10 a.m.
The NDRA Rodeo Finals will begin each night at 7 p.m. The Beer Garden will open each night at 6 p.m., and rodeo dances will be held both nights immediately following the rodeos.
Go-around prizes will be awarded during each night’s dance to each night’s top contestants. There is also an additional $30,000 added purse money, and belt buckles will be awarded to each night’s winners and average winners.
Ticket prices for adults are $12 each night of the Finals. Ages seven to 18 can get in for $8 each night and children six and under are free. For more information, call the McKenzie County Tourism Bureau at 701-444-2804 or the NDRA Rodeo Office at 701-444-2526.