Not their first rodeo: PBR returns to Dickinson fair grounds Saturday
The Stark County Fairgrounds looks to kick up some dust with the best rodeo show of 2020 bringing the warm Western Edge days to a close. The second annual Dickinson Professional Bull Riders competition will headline the fairgrounds in an event surely to feature some of the toughest battles between the rowdiest cowboys and mother nature's mightiest bulls this Saturday, Sept. 5.
The inaugural event in 2019, produced by Frontier Production, had a total of 30 bull riders in the competition. However, as said by Nathan Hofer, the owner, because of the COVID pandemic, 40 riders will be competing in the event with some of the notch names in the sport being featured with the best of the best coming from all parts of the country to compete in the fairgrounds.
"We’ve got guys like Colten Jesse, ranked-sixth in the world, Stetson Lawrence, out of Wiliston, ranked 23 … we got a whole line of riders that have been there and done that," Hofer said. "What you see on TV in the professional bull riding you’re going to get to witness right here, in Dickinson, Saturday night."
Hofer added there was an additional piece to the upcoming event, adding barrel racing to give the young women a chance to display their talents to the fans, and compete on one of the biggest stages of the year.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of rodeos have been cancelled, we added that barrel racing to give these girls to run their expensive horses, because that’s a really big investment," Hofer said. "We’re giving them the chance to run for a lot of money."
Hofer said the barrel racing will begin on Friday night but will carry over the main event day on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. The doors will open for the event at 5 p.m. with the official bull riding to begin at 7 p.m. The Top 10 barrel racers will then compete in the intermission of the bull riding. Following that the bull riding will close out the night with the Top 12 riders in which the champion will decided.
As seen with numerous sporting events throughout the country, the organization will be heavily monitoring the competitors for COVID and hoping to not be seen as a potential hotspot location for the virus.
"We’re putting in place very strict guidelines to COVID as far as our riders and our contestants go, we’re keeping them confined," Hofer said. Nobody that doesn’t work or ride is going to be allowed in our lower arena, we got very strict guidelines put in place. We’re going to do testing on all contestants, if they have temperatures and everything we’ll have them leave."
Fans will be asked to socially distance and follow precautions as mentioned by the CDC, wearing masks in requested, but not mandated.
"For our fans … we obviously want everyone to be safe," Hofer said. "We had a VIP section last year … but due to the coronavirus, we’re not going to have that this year. We don’t want to get so many people in a small confined space. But most of the event will be a repeat from last year."
Dickinson and other local fans will be able to cheer for underdogs in the event, including some hometown love. While 35 of the 40 riders will be coming from out of state, a handful were selected Hofer. The well-known hometown rider, Wade Berg, is one of the riders Hofer selected.
"(Berg) is riding better than I ever seen him, I think he’s got a shot at winning this event. He’s riding that good," he said. "The next one is Cole Slander. He’s earning a lot of money at the PRCA, he’s a 19-year-old rookie … I always like to see these young guys, these underdogs, get matched up with this good bull power to see if they can win. Also, it boosts their confidence to the point of where they feel like the belong in the PBR."
With the heavier competition comes the thrill of seeing some hard bucks, and high scores. Something that was experienced last year, but could hit new heights this year.
"Last year we had a tough event and a great event … we had a pair of 89 and-a-half points to win the short round. You can watch a lot of bull riding and not an 89-point ride, and we had a pair of them to win it last year," Hofer said. "This year, I’m expecting at least three, four, maybe five 90s."
Tickets for the event are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 6-11 and children 5 and under are free. Tickets are available at Boot Barn and Dakota Comm Bank & Trust.