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Roughrider Commission says one last goodbye to old rodeo arena

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RJ Zuroff, of Zuroff Repair in Hebron, saws away some of the bleachers at the old Roughrider Rodeo Arena on Friday. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)2 / 2

Piece by piece, the Roughrider Commission said goodbye to the Dickinson State University Roughrider Rodeo Arena on Friday evening.

Around 30 volunteers from around the area showed up to the DSU campus grounds to help clear out the space that the Roughrider Commission has called home for more than 30 years along State Avenue.

Lori Vernon, secretary of the Roughrider Commission, said they had been contacted by various entities from the surrounding area who wanted to volunteer their time and labor to help tear down the arena, which will eventually be home to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

She said the crew hopes to have most everything cleared out by Saturday afternoon.

Vernon said it will be a bit tough to say goodbye to the arena, but they are looking forward to the new Stark County Fairgrounds, which will officially open next year south of Dickinson.

"It's kind of sad to see it go," she said. "... We've put in a lot of hours and a lot of time over here, so it's kind of sad to see it go. But it'll be nice to be at the new facility."

She said the commission was in need of a new facility and that she looks forward to starting a new chapter at the new location.

"It's kind of like a funeral," Vernon said with a laugh. "You have to get through all of that and then it'll be OK and you enjoy the next thing to come."

The Roughrider Commission originally moved to the location around 30 years ago from the Schnell Livestock Arena.

DSU has since been using the grounds for its rodeo programs.

Vernon said that the commission and the university have been able to maintain a good working relationship and that the location worked well for both of them. She said kids would often start in youth rodeo and then work their way to the collegiate level, often at DSU, and then many continued their careers as a part of the PRCA or amateur rodeo circuits.

Most of the rest of the equipment, including the arena panels and bucking chutes, will be set up at the new location just south of Dickinson later as the new practice arena.

Vernon said the new location will have covered grandstands, so they will no longer need the wooden bleachers.

Bob Tibor came from Hebron to help with the process. He said he wasn't expecting so many people to come out and volunteer for the project, but he said he enjoys seeing the power of community.

"This is good," he said. "These are all volunteers. ... Some are trucking folks. Some are beekeepers. It's cool."

Tibor said the wooden bleachers from the DSU Roughrider Rodeo Arena will now make their way to Hebron to be use at various events, like the Tough Truck and rodeo club. He said he's excited to see the bleachers be put to good use.

"There were a lot of memories of the bleachers sitting here," Tibor said. "Lot of kids, lot of families that sat on them. There was a lot of Roughrider Days, college rodeos, kids rodeos. A lot of things went on here. So there's a lot of history but we're going to put them back together and back to use again.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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