Great Northern Rodeo takes center stage

Two nights of NRA rodeo action start tonight at the Great Northern Fairgrounds


Daniel Horton

Havre's Tyler Davey competes in the bareback riding at the 2012 Great Northern Rodeo last July. Davey will be one of many local competitiors in this weekend's Great Northern NRA Rodeo, which starts tonight at 7 p.m. in Havre.

If you’re looking for a great rodeo to watch, then look no further than the Great Northern Fairgrounds. It’s true, the Great Northern Rodeo, formerly known as the Great Northern Stampede always creates plenty of wild excitement, but this year’s performance might be the best yet.

The annual Northern Rodeo Association sanctioned Great Northern Rodeo kicks off with tonight’s performance at 7 inside the Great Northern Rodeo arena, while the rodeo concludes Saturday night with a second performance at 6 p.m.

And this year’s rodeo is loaded with some of the best talent, local and statewide.

Rodeo fans who want to see local cowboys and cowgirls should look no further than tonight’s performance as many area athletes will be in action. Current Montana State University-Northern cowboy Charlie Mack headlines a great list of local cowboys tonight. Mack, who competed recently in the College National Finals Rodeo, is currently ranked eighth in the NRA bareback standings, an event he’ll compete in tonight. He’s also ranked 10th in bull riding, which he’ll also compete in this evening.

And the local talent doesn’t stop there. Among other area cowboys competing tonight is Havre’s Tyler Davey in the bareback riding; John, Jesse and Wade Colliflower of Rocky Boy, all in the steer wrestling, while Jesse will also compete in saddle bronc; and Box Elder’s Cameron and Frank Billy in team roping.

Fans will also want to make sure and see tonight’s bull riding, as many local youngsters will try their hand. Among them is Havre High’s Colton Bender. Only a junior in high school, he is already a true up-and-comer in the sport. Havre will also be represented in the bull pen by Nadir Greytak and Doug Solomon, while Box Elder’s Cody Four Colors and Rocky Boy’s Fabian Sadler will climb aboard some rank bulls tonight.

Local talent can also be found throughout Saturday morning’s slack, with plenty of area barrel racers, team ropers and steer wrestlers, among other events.

And not only are there plenty of locals to root for over the next two days, most of the top cowboys and cowgirls in the current NRA standings will also be in action throughout the weekend.

Joining Mack in the bareback riding are the top five cowboys in the NRA standings, which makes the saddle bronc one of the most hotly contested events at the Great Northern Rodeo. John Salois of East Glacier currently leads the standings, while Boulder’s Calvin Wrzesinski is second, Dillon’s J2 Bridges is third, Baker’s Sylvan LaCross is fourth and Helena’s Nick Owens is fifth. All five riders are competing in Havre this weekend.

Many of the top bull riders are also in town for a big payday. Top-ranked J.D. Harrell of Roy, third-ranked Phillip Whiteman of Lame Deer, fifth-ranked Tanner Theirault of Townsend, sixth-ranked Casey Fredericks of Busby and ninth-ranked Casey Wheeler of Valier will compete, as will Owens, who is ranked 11th, and like Mack, is doubling up this weekend.

Havre will also be well represented in the steer wrestling as Josh Granell, currently ranked 12th, and Dennis Barta, currently ranked 14th, will both be in action Saturday morning, while ninth-ranked Tanner Hollenback of Dillon will compete in the saddle bronc riding.

There will also be a reason to watch the barrels this weekend, not only because there is top talent on the ladies side in all three performances, but because it will be a homecoming of sorts for one family. The great Flint Rasmussen, once a teacher and coach at Havre High, and eight-time PRCA Clown of the Year, will have both of his daughters racing the barrels this weekend. Shelby will race in the ladies’ barrels and the junior barrels, while Paige will also compete in the junior barrels. Rasmussen is now working the Professional Bull Riders Tour.

Speaking of the PBR, rumor has it one of the top bulls on the tour will be in the pen this weekend in Havre. Word on the street is, Chocolate Thunder, currently ranked ninth in the PBR standings will be appearing in Havre. Chocolate Thunder, a Montana-bred bull owned by Bird Bucking Bulls in Browning, is considered as rank as they come, and is 1,500 pounds of athletic and powerful animal.

The junior events are also part of the uniqueness of this weekend’s rodeo. There will be junior barrel racing, junior breakaway roping and junior bull riding on tap in Havre.

And at this weekend’s rodeo contestants can pick up points toward the Indian Rodeo Finals later this year in Las Vegas.

The bullfighter for this week’s rodeo will be David Whitmoyer, a former Carroll College football player, now known as Danger Dave. He’s becoming one of the top NRA clowns in the business. The stock contractor for the Great Northern Rodeo is Black Eagle Rodeo.

The Great Northern Rodeo kicks off tonight at 7 at the Great Northern Fairgrounds Arena. Slack is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, and the second performance of the rodeo is slated for 6 p.m. Saturday.


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