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Minnesota's largest rodeo event begins July 4

The West meets the Midwest from July 4-6 when the Headwaters Xtreme Bulls and PRCA Rodeo rides into Jokela ProWest grounds, east on Hwy. 34. (Enterprise file photo)

Headwaters Xtreme Bulls and PRCA Rodeo organizer Randy Jokela is mighty proud of the calibre of competitors and livestock that the Park Rapids event attracts each year.

The nation's top cowboys and cowgirls roll into Jokela ProWest grounds July 4-6 for three nights of professional bull riding and PRCA-sanctioned rodeo action. Gates open at 5 p.m., rain or shine.

The stakes are high.

"If they don't do well over the Fourth, they won't get to nationals," Jokela said.

Since Park Rapids is PRCA sanctioned, all points earned in the events help contestants qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo held in Las Vegas each December.

Last year, all three world champions in rough stock — bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding — competed in Park Rapids.

Jokela said there are three reasons the top dogs battle in Park Rapids. "Number one, of course, is prize money and points they can accumulate. Number two, you have to have quality, good livestock that is even. The third is the route," he said.

Qualifying bull rides and rodeos are held from Arizona to Canada over the Fourth of July, and Park Rapids fits neatly into the calendar.

"It's not uncommon for these guys to get on eight or nine bulls in eight or nine days, back to back," Jokela said.

The two-day Xtreme Bulls event July 4-5 in Park Rapids features 40 new riders each night.

Qualifying entries will be randomly assigned to bulls or broncs. Riding stock comes from Montana, North and South Dakota and Oklahoma.

One bull is typically worth $90,000 to $100,000, Jokela said. Licensed veterinarians are required at every PRCA event, he added.

A full slate of rodeo action runs July 6 — from bareback, saddle bronc and steer wrestling to calf roping, barrel racing, team roping and bull riding.

Last year's record number of entries in the rodeo — 346 — meant horse trailers filled the parking lots. "It looked like Texas," Jokela said.

This year's rodeo clown is Mark Swingler. He hails from Texas.

"He's a funny clown — one of the top 10, no question," Jokela said. Swingler is in such high demand, Jokela had to hire him almost two years ago.

Freestyle, aerial Moto X riders will perform all three nights at half-time.

Nightly dances under the pavilion feature country rock bands "Drop Tailgate" and "Copperhead Creek."

"This is going to be a great rodeo. It will be awesome. If you've never been there, get out there because you'll be shocked what we bring to Park Rapids," Jokela said. "We are the true edge of the West, right here. This is it."

Jokela said he's grateful for the community support. The local economy sees an economic boost, too, he said, through accommodations, gas, groceries and more.

Tickets are available at www.parkrapidsbullride.com, along with more information. Smokey Hills Outdoor Store and Wadena Super One are also ticket outlets. Tickets are half-price for kids on July 4.

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