High School students from throughout the state of North Dakota are expected to help kick off the brand new rodeo arena just outside Killdeer May 5.
By Brad Mosher
According to Tim Steffan of the Killdeer Saddle Club, the high school rodeo will be the first competition held in the new, nearly completed, facility.
Much of the historic arena in Killdeer was moved to the new location just west of the city on the Highway 22 Bypass during the fall, including several buildings.
The prep rodeo will be drawing a lot of high schoolers to Killdeer.
“They’ll be coming all the way from Fargo and the whole state,” Steffan said. “There will be a few of the Montana high school kids too.”
He said that the club expects to have almost 200 boys and girls competing. “Every school in North Dakota that has a kid who likes to rodeo can come. No schools are restricted. Every kid will be equal, he added, noting they will be compete against one another regardless the size of the school.
According to Steffan, the Saddle Club got a big recent donation which has allowed them to start construction April 23 on a large building on the hillside at the site. “It will be about 60 feet by 120 feet,” he added.
“The main arena is pretty much done. We are putting the second arena up and we got some lights and other odds and ends,” he said.
Much of the rails and pens were moved from the older location during a series of weekend workdays by the members of the Killdeer Saddle Club.
The old arena had been in Killdeer since 1955, after it was moved from the Killdeer Mountains after being there since 1924.
When the demolition of the older arena started in October, there was a mixed feeling about losing something that had known most of their lives.
The group used saws and Bobcats to help dismantle some of the pens, while others demolished the rodeo office and salvaged what they could from the building before picking up the rubble and disposing of it.
While one group of Saddle Club members spent the October day cleaning up its past, the club had also been busy working on building its future at the new location.
According to Wyley Bice, the club and its arena has been an investment in the local youth and in the community.
A large donation last fall was targeted at helping construct a concessions and livestock barn at the new arena. Bice, a member of the club’s fundraising committee, told people recently that the new building would help provide the ability to grow the events and cater to the handicapped and elderly when weather doesn’t cooperate.
The club has a mission to promote the western heritage along with the sport of rodeo.
In addition to the livestock barn, the club hopes to build an indoor facility for barrel racing at its new location.
The old facility had just gotten too small to keep up with the need for the rodeo community, Steffan explained.
With the new facility, the Saddle Club will be ready for the centennial of the Killdeer Rodeo in 2023, he added.