The oldest rodeo in the state of North Dakota, Mandan Rodeo Days began in the summer of 1879 as a simple Fourth of July event featuring a baseball game and pony races.
Today, the event is sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), and it draws more than 500 cowboys and cowgirls from around the country to compete for almost $130,000 in prize money. It was even named Rodeo of the Year by the PRCA Badlands Circuit in 2016.
Events include everything from bareback bronc and bull riding to team roping and barrel racing. There are also chuckwagon races, mutton busting for the children, a 5K, baseball games, a golf tournament and a fireworks show.
While rodeo has always been a family-friendly event, the community in Mandan is particularly fond of this annual tradition. Many residents in the area treasure their memories of attending or competing in the Mandan Rodeo.
“My dad was a bull rider, so the rodeo has always been a part of my life,” says Brittany Schock, former Miss Rodeo Mandan queen. “We would compete at different local rodeos on the weekend and made so many wonderful memories and friends. The rodeo world is all about community. It’s a very family-friendly sport.”
A Special Rodeo for the Kids
Schock’s involvement in the Mandan Rodeo Days paved the way for her to compete at the Miss Rodeo North Dakota pageant, where she learned about a PRCA event designed specifically for children with special needs.
“I’m an occupational therapist, and working with children has always been a passion of mine,” says Schock. “When I learned about this children’s rodeo event, I knew it was something we needed in Mandan.”
Schock drew up a plan and presented it to the rodeo committee and the Remarkable Kids Rodeo was born.
The event caters to children with special needs and gives them an opportunity to compete in activities like stick horse barrel racing, goat tail tying and roping. The children also get the chance to ride a real horse through a barrel racing pattern with the assistance of volunteers.
“Growing up with horses and the rodeo taught me a lot about hard work and dedication,” says Schock. “It’s helped me become the person I am today. I think it’s important for us to give the children in our community a chance to experience that too – especially if they wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise.”