Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

Increased purse money to bring more world champion cowboys, and cowgirls to Mandan Rodeo Days

MANDAN – Money talks.

Big money attracts big talent, no matter the profession or industry, and that’s what the Mandan Rodeo is receiving this year.

This year, the committee is making the purse money for the three rough stock events: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, $20,000 per event. The purse money is the money added by the committee to the cowboys’ entry fees, and is paid back to the winners.

Big money attracts big talent, no matter the profession or industry, and that’s what the Mandan Rodeo is receiving this year.

It’s a big jump, going from $14,000 last year per roughstock event, to $20,000 this year. In the timed events (tie-down, team roping and breakaway roping; steer wrestling and barrel racing), purse money was $7,000 last year and jumps to $10,000 this year.

And fans will see a difference in the quality of the cowboys, said Darryl Howard, a fifteen-year committee member.

The higher purse, which is the most purse money among all North Dakota rodeos and nearly the highest in South Dakota (except for Rodeo Rapid City) will entice cowboys to compete in Mandan.

“It will really bring the wolves of the (rodeo) world to Mandan,” Howard said. “When we have the quality of bucking horses we have, and bucking horse riders, it makes all the difference in the world for filling the stands. It makes it an easier job.”

The increase in purse money in the three events elevates Mandan among an already busy Fourth of July rodeo season, and can make a big difference in a cowboy’s season.

Tim O’Connell, a three-time world champion bareback rider, said the increase in purse could pencil out to a five-figure check to the winner. “When a rodeo adds $20,000, sometimes they’ll get enough entries that it pays out $10,000. A guy can win $40,000 over four days (during the Fourth holiday), and that’s huge.

“What’s really nice about Mandan, is that it’s not off in the middle of nowhere,” he said. The irony is that two of the biggest PRCA rodeos over the Fourth are St. Paul, Oregon, and Ponoka, Alberta. “Those rodeos are on the west coast and in Canada, and everything else (Mandan, Cody, Wyo, Belle Fourche and Kadoka, S.D., Livingston and Red Lodge, Mont.)  is all right there together. A cowboy, with these kind of fuel prices, doesn’t have to travel very far. It’s the right location with the right rodeos at the right time.”

Howard said the rise in prize money will make the Mandan Rodeo “the focal point of the north country.”

And fans reap the benefits. “When we have two or three or four world champions out every night, across every event, it’s pretty danged amazing.”

The total purse money for this year’s rodeo is $120,000. 

The 143rd annual Mandan Rodeo presented by Dakota Community Bank and Trust takes place July 2-4, with performances beginning at 7:30 pm nightly.

Tickets can be purchased online at Ticket packages start at $25 and include a free commemorative hat, reserved seating, and more.