NDRA Rodeo

What is an NDRA rodeo? The North Dakota Rodeo Association is a sanctioning organization for rodeos in North Dakota and surrounding states. As with many other associations, the NDRA has set out to promote and better the sport of rodeo throughout North Dakota and surrounding states.

About the NDRA

The NDRA was formed in 1953 and is still going strong. With 250+ members, it is one of the state’s largest rodeo entities. It approves 15-25 rodeos a year and draws more contestants and spectators to the summer rodeos than other rodeo bodies in the state. Each year, the NDRA determines state champions through its Finals Rodeo that are currently held in Watford City, ND on the second Friday & Saturday in September. Their Finals Rodeo features the top twelve contestants in each standard event and pits them against the top stock in the state.

NDRA History

If it’s one thing we love to do, is to share the history of an association and how it came to be. The NDRA started from one man’s idea and turned into a nationally respected association. Norman “Peg” O’Neil, from Killdeer, ND, is often called the “father” of the idea of the NDRA. He felt that the rodeos throughout the state needed to be organized and coordinated making them better for everyone involved including the committees, the cowboys, and the spectators. Peg did more than just come up with a good idea, he worked hard to make it happen. He is credited with much of the success that the NDRA has enjoyed.

The first step in implementing his plan was to send out letters to various rodeo-minded people throughout the state inviting them to a meeting at Beulah, ND on February 28, 1952 (the site of the NDRA’s 40 year celebration in February 1992). At this first meeting, some instrumental individuals were chosen as officers. Had these people not been of the hardworking, dedicated sort (like today’s rodeo committees!), the NDRA may not have become the strong organization that it is today. Peg O’Neil was elected President, a position he held for three years. Ralph Murray, Zap, ND, served as the first vice president; Clair Cullen, Hensler, ND, was elected as secretary-treasurer. He didn’t actually accept the position, but took it upon himself to find “just the right person for the job”. And that he did! After returning home from the Beulah meeting, and an evening out to “butter her up”, Clair approached his wife Pearl with the news that she had been selected as the first secretary-treasurer of the newly formed North Dakota Rodeo Association. A better secretary could not have been chosen; the energy, dedication, and enthusiasm which is the very makeup of Pearl herself, was apparent in all she did.

This group of three contacted as many rodeo committees as possible in the state, outlining the idea of the Association, urging them to cooperate and send the name of a candidate for the board of directors. The first board was appointed from these names; succeeding directors were voted on by the membership much as it is handled today. The by-laws, which were established by that first board 50 years ago, included many principles that the Association still follows today.

The main objective of the Association was to promote better rodeos and to publicize the sport of rodeo, as well as to help the local committees and cowboys with rodeo-related problems. It was supported by all the professional and amateur rodeos in the state, the stock contractors and rodeo producers, as well as numerous amateur and professional cowboys.

When first organized, the NDRA was strictly a committee organization. The only members were rodeo and horse show (if the show contained any approved events) committees throughout the state. A $5 yearly membership fee was charged to each organization and in addition, another $5 or 1% of the prize money (whichever amount was larger) was collected from their rodeo. In 1953, 20 rodeo associations joined and some are still promoting and producing NDRA approved rodeos.

The original standard events were bareback, saddle bronc, calf roping, steer wrestling, and bull riding. Bucking bulls were hard to come by in the early years so cow riding was a popular substitute. The wild horse race was also a big hit at many rodeos.

This history excerpt was shared from the NDRA’s website, you can read the full story here.

NDRA Rodeo Schedule

March 2022

March 13th | ND Winter Show Rodeo | Valley City, ND

April 2022

April 1st & 2nd | Minot NDRA | Minot, ND

June 2022

June 18th | McKenzie County Fair and Rodeo | Watford City, ND | Pending*

July 2022

July 7th Pending | Pembina County Fair | Cavalier, ND

September 2022

September 23th & 24th | NDRA Finals Rodeo | Watford City, ND

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