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Coors Bull Riding Challenge coming to Sanford Center in Bemidji

The preparation for this weekend’s Coors Bull Riding Challenge is under way with the ice in the hockey arena removed. More than 700 cubic yards of special dirt will be replacing it. Crews from Anderson Contracting of Bemidji begin the task of placing dirt in the arena Tuesday afternoon. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - A new challenge faces the preparation of this year’s Coors Bull Riding Challenge at the Sanford Center in Bemidji.

A whole lot of snow is covering the stored dirt used for this weekend’s show, and it’s frozen. Crews have not faced this problem in the last two years. More than 700 cubic yards of clay mixed with sand replaces the ice in the arena at the event center. That is enough to place about 8-10 inches of dirt throughout the arena.

Anderson Contracting of Bemidji and Solway discovered the front-end loader could not break through the permafrost, so a larger backhoe was needed to bust up the dirt before it could be moved on Tuesday afternoon.

“The dirt work started a day earlier to allow it to sit inside and thaw for a day,: said Mike Cronin, associate executive director/operations at the Sanford Center. “Instead of dirt work being done in one day they will come back tomorrow and spread, then pack the dirt.” 

New for this year’s show, said Cronin, the bull chutes will be moved 30 feet further west, bringing the action closer to the audience. “We learn from each event,” he said. “They only need about 85 feet to operate. Fans will not only be closer to the action but feel the action.”

Bemidji Chrysler Center presents this year’s Coors Bull Riding Challenge at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the Sanford Center Ford Pickup window.