Posted 9/05/12 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
The event North Dakota rodeo enthusiasts wait for every year is finally here. The 2012 NDRA Championship Rodeo Finals will be next Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8, at the McKenzie County Multi-Purpose Building located on the McKenzie County Fairgrounds.
This two-day event gives the top 12 North Dakota Rodeo contestants in nine standard categories a chance to compete for NDRA Rodeo Champion. Eleven of the competing finalists hail from McKenzie County, making this year’s finals an even bigger ‘must see’ event for everyone.
According to one finalist, Tess (Haugen) Steedley, being able to compete is not only an honor, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work.
Tess gradutated from Watford City High School in 2008 and now lives in Wyoming with her husband, Vance. Tess and Vance have been competing in NDRA rodeo events all summer long, along with Tess’ dad, Les Haugen, who lives in Alexander. Vance was just shy of making the finals this year, but Les, who competes in the Senior Men’s Breakaway, and Tess, who competes in the Ladies Breakaway, received enough points to earn spots in the Finals.
“It will be fun to do this with my dad, but I’m also thankful to be able to come back home and compete with the best,” states Tess.
Tess is coming in last in her category, but “I can’t complain because I’m going. I just hope to catch both my calves and do the best I can.”
Les is also looking forward to this year’s NDRA Finals.
“I got back into roping after I had a bout with cancer a few years ago,” states Les. “All my kids are grown, so I’m done taking them to rodeos. I decided it was time to do something for myself.”
Les’ wife goes with him and they run into their kids along the way, so it’s still a family event for them.
This is the first time Les and Tess have made it to the NDRA Finals together. Les hopes to be able to compete on Tess’ old horse, who is 23 years old.
Bill and Sam Jorgenson, of Watford City, are another father and daughter who made their way to the finals this year.
Sam Jorgenson competes in the Ladies Breakaway and the Ladies Barrel Racing categories, while Bill competes in the Senior Men’s Breakaway. Sam and Bill also Team Rope, but they did not earn enough points in that category to compete in the Finals.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Sam states. “My dad helps me all the time. He and my mom are really supportive.”
Sam is a high school senior who is competing for the second time in the NDRA Finals.
“This is the first time my dad and I have made it together,” Sam states. “It takes a lot of miles to travel to events all over the state, and a lot of time spent practicing, but when you finally make it, it’s really rewarding.”
Other McKenzie County finalists are Jim Hansen, of Watford City, competing in Steer Wrestling; Layne Carson, of Grassy Butte, competing in Team Roping; Robert Sperry, of Trotters, competing in Team Roping; Chase Carson, formerly of Grassy Butte, competing in Team Roping; Ross Carson, of Killdeer, competing in Team Roping; Lindsey Goulet, of Watford City, competing in Ladies Barrel Racing; and Chaston Lee, of Grassy Butte, competing in Bull Riding.
The nine competition event categories include: Bareback Riding, Calf Roping, Ladies Breakaway, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Ladies Barrel Racing, Senior Men’s Breakaway, and always a crowd pleaser, Bull Riding.
The Watford City High School Rodeo will be held in conjunction with the NDRA Rodeo Finals the morning of Saturday, Sept. 8.
On Friday, Sept. 7, the Beer Garden will open at 6 p.m., with the first night of the Rodeo Finals starting close behind at 7 p.m., with a Party in the Dirt Rodeo Dance to follow.
Then on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. the Watford City High School Rodeo Club will be competing in the outdoor arena with the NDRA Jackpot Team Roping starting in the outdoor arena at 10 a.m. The Beer Garden will again be open at 6 p.m. with the second night of the Rodeo Finals beginning at 7 p.m., followed by another Party in the Dirt Rodeo Dance immediately after the Finals are done.
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.