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Sanford Center preps for rodeo finals

Ben Stowe, owner of NLFX Professional, sets up special lighting for this weekend’s rodeo at the Sanford Center. The light bank is for the band Cross Water. A special pyrotechnics show will also accompany the event. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — This is, in fact, their first rodeo.

Sanford Center staff have been working this week to prep the two-year-old arena for the Minnesota Rodeo Association finals this weekend. That includes laying down a mixture of clay and sand for the riders.

Georgette Bloom, the center’s convention sales manager who brought the event to Bemidji, said they are using even more dirt than what was used for the bull riding event in March.

"It needs to be deeper," Bloom said of the dirt. "Of course, we need to drag it and cultivate it and work it all in together for it to be the right consistency for the contestants."

The center will store the dirt for another event involving animals after this weekend’s rodeo is finished.

The finals will kick off 4:30 p.m. today with pre-rodeo barrel races, an event that’s open to the public in the arena. The other events at 6:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday at the arena require paid admission.

Bloom said tickets are still available.

One winner will be declared in each of nine events, as well as an overall winner for someone who competes in more than two events, she added.

"This is what you shoot for when you rodeo all year long," Bloom said. She emphasized rodeo is not the same as bull-riding, which came to the Sanford Center less than two months ago.

This weekend’s event will include calf-roping, steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding.

"Bull-riding is included in the rodeo, but it is not the only event … This has more action to it, and more pieces to it," Bloom said. "It’s going to be quite the show."


-- General Admission: $18

-- Kids: $8

-- Family 4 Pack: $46

-- Club Reserved: $25

-- Groups of 15 or more: $15

-- For suite rentals available, call 441-4000

Events kick off at 4:30 p.m. today with pre-rodeo barrel races, an event that’s open to the public in the arena. Other events are at 6:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday and require paid admission.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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