Devils Lake Chute Out Rodeo a community-driven success over weekend

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Four+ months of hard work paid off in full this past weekend for the Devils Lake Rodeo Club. 

The Devils Lake Chute Out Rodeo occurred Sept. 9-11 at Burdick Arena.

Of course, you didn’t have to tell Brandon Padilla – the Devils Lake Rodeo Club president – such a statement. Since the Devils Lake Rodeo Club’s inception in April, Padilla wished to bring the sport back to a former hotspot: Devils Lake. 

In conjunction with the Abrahamson Rodeo Company, Padilla and the Devils Lake Rodeo Club saw their dream come into fruition Sept. 9-11 when the Devils Lake Chute Out Rodeo packed the Burdick Arena stands for a weekend of nonstop action. 

Padilla understood the obstacles between lassoing rodeo responsibilities and working through his current full-time job with the City of Devils Lake. But he also recognized the payoff from helping put on such an event. 

And the payoff was more than a productive one. If anything, it was a memorable one, too. 

“It’s been a lot of work,” Padilla said. “It’s been 20 to 30 hours a week on top of my full-time job, between everybody in the rodeo club. Between getting everybody here that we need here to help out and put the show on and make it a good show, it has been a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails sent, and it has been a lot of head-scratching on how we were going to make some things work. All in all, it’s been good. It’s just a lot of work. It’s a lot of leg work to put on this event.” 

293 contestants officially participated in the three-day rodeo event. Approximately 80 sponsors and a $20,000 prize pool added helped add to the competitive allure. 

Kyle Abrahamson, the owner of Abrahamson Rodeo Company, knew Devils Lake’s rodeo history succinctly. From sitting in the seats of the same Burdick Arena during his childhood, Abrahamson yearned to find that experience once more. 

To Abrahamson, the atmosphere helped define the experience almost to a tee. 

“The energy in this building,” Abrahamson said. “It’s one of the few rodeos we do each year in a building. Everybody is on top. It’s close quarters. I mean, the energy in this building…you talk to two guys who rode here 25 years ago, and they’ll ask what their favorite rodeos are, and they’ll always say Devils Lake. And there has been enough of a break now. A lot of these contestants and riders and stuff, they’ve never competed here before. So, they haven’t had that experience of a three-day week in Devils Lake. So, I know a lot of people are looking forward to that.” 

After starting in the rodeo industry at age six, Padilla, now 29, has involved himself in the sport in more ways than one. And so, it was only natural for Padilla to bring the sport he has come to love back to the very same community where the now-disbanded Lake Region Rodeo Club left its mark for close to three decades. 

To Padilla, the opportunity to bring the sport back to Devils Lake through the Devils Lake Rodeo Club and the Abrahamson Rodeo Company could not be taken for granted. After all, putting on the Devils Lake Chute Out Rodeo could be what helps the youth find their love for the sport. 

To Padilla, the future of the sport means just as much as the present state of the sport. And so, providing the youth with a local avenue to experience a rodeo made sense. 

“Just all of the little kids you see when you talk about the rodeo, their eyes light up,” Padilla said. “Everybody loves to go to a good rodeo. Just with putting this event on this year, we’ve gotten a lot of kids that are eager to help wherever they can, and that is the whole reason we did this was to give the community an event to look forward to for entertainment and also maybe open people’s eyes to doors opening in the western way of life and the western heritage in the sport that we all love in the name of rodeo.”

The Devils Lake Chute Out Rodeo, to Padilla, was a memorable success.

According to Padilla, such a booming turnout for the Devils Lake Chute Out Rodeo could lead to a future Devils Lake rodeo event in 2023. Even still, the 2022 rendition could not have created a more memorable atmosphere. 

To Abrahamson and Padilla, the event was what was needed to signify the rodeo’s return to the region. 

“It’s just electric, I guess,” Abrahamson said. “You fill the stands in the Burdick Arena here, and there’s an 85-point bull ride. I mean, there is as much energy here as if you’re in a big stadium. People enjoy rodeo. The cool part about here, a lot of places are only going to cheer for a bull rider. Here, I mean, if there is a barrel racer that makes a smoking run and is in the first place, you know, they get just as much of applause as the guy who went 85 points on a bull.”

“It’s outstanding how the community turned out to support us in sponsorship, and it’s going to be outstanding to see the way the community supports us in attendance as far as fans go,” Padilla said. “It’s going to be an all-out, all-around outstanding event. I think this has been a sought-after and looked-forward-to event in the Lake Region now that it’s back and now that it’s here.”

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com), Instagram (johnbcranesports) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.