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Excitement brews for Roughrider Days Rodeo

Press Photo by Royal McGregor J.J. Alley competes in bareback riding during the Roughrider Days Rodeo on June 30, 2013 at the Dickson State Outdoor Arena. Alley won last year’s bareback title.

Each year, the Roughrider Days Fair and Expo draws large crowds of people from around the Dickinson area to relax and celebrate.

The centerpiece of the weekend — the Roughrider Days Rodeo — begins at 6:30 p.m. today at the Dickinson State Outdoor Arena and also attracts a large amount of cowboys and cowgirls from near and far.

For J.J. Alley of Tabor, S.D., the eight- to nine-hour drive to Dickinson isn’t a pain, but filled with anticipation.

“I’m about as far away from Dickinson as a guy can get,” Alley said with a little laugh.

Alley won the bareback event with 80 points in last year’s rodeo, which was also the turning point for the better in his season.

While this season has been a little inconsistent, Alley is hoping to defend his title and let history repeat itself. While winning back-to-back victories may be tough, Alley feels luck is in his favor.

“Not to sound cocky but it kind of gives me a confidence, been there done that, and want to do it again,” Alley said. “Kind of gives you the drive to want to go back and that turned out to be a pretty good rodeo.”

While Alley will cover hundreds of miles from South Dakota, the rodeo will also serve as a homecoming for several other riders.

The Breuer brothers — Ty and Casey — only have to travel from Mandan to compete in bareback on Saturday, while Blake Smith of Zap will draw a large crowd for the same event on Sunday.

“It always helps to get back in the state of North Dakota and ride,” Ty said. “... You can sleep in your bed the night before you get on which helps out a lot. Your family gets to come and I get more pumped up when you get to ride around home.”

In last year’s rodeo, Casey tied for third in his rookie season and Ty finished tied for fifth.

After having surgery on his elbow following his appearance in the 2013 National Finals Rodeo, Ty has slowly been getting back into riding shape and competed in select rodeos the past month.

The high number of rodeos in the upcoming weeks will be a challenge to see how well his elbow holds up.

“I just started back and I haven’t gone to many, we’ll go to some over the next couple of days so it’ll be a good test for the elbow,” Ty said.

In past Roughrider Rodeos, Smith hasn’t had much luck.

But in the past month, the Zap native’s confidence has been soaring and finished in the top three — including a win in Sturgis, S.D. — in bareback events and has high hopes for Sunday.

“Right now I just feel really good and happy to be out rodeoing,” Smith said. “With Dickinson, I just want to do my best. They run a really good rodeo and I just try to go in with a good attitude and hope for the best.”

This week marks the unofficial start of Cowboy Christmas, the time of year where there are several rodeos, more prize money and lots of movement in the world standings.

Alley doesn’t compete in bareback until Sunday but will participate in Ponca, Neb., today and the Crystal Springs Rodeo in Clear Lake, S.D., on Saturday.

After Dickinson, he will take a few days off in order to prepare for a busy Fourth of July weekend.

With the high amount of rodeos during Cowboy Christmas, the upcoming weekends can be extremely beneficial to competitors.

“If you start bad and you’re getting bucked off or this or that, there’s so many rodeos going on it’s not like you have to wait all week to redeem yourself,” Alley said.

The same goes for Smith and the Breuers. Smith finished competing in Clear Lake, S.D., Friday, while Ty and Casey were in Edgewood, Iowa.

“It’s really fun that’s for sure,” Ty said about the traveling. “It’s a lot of miles but usually when it’s all said and done it pays off. When you look back, there’s a lot of sleepless nights driving home, catching planes but it’s all worth it in the end.”

As the four bareback riders make their way to Dickinson from all corners of the country, the pressure and excitement will be on for Alley to attempt a repeat and the Breuers and Smith to stand out in front of their home crowds.

“I can’t wait to go to Dickinson,” Smith said. “It’s kind of closer to home for me and you see a lot of local people who come to watch so you always want to do good at those local rodeos.”

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.