The prospect of July 4 fireworks on Thursday and a threat of rain on Friday did little to deter a crowd from seeing the 41st annual Headwaters PRCA Xtreme Bulls competition this weekend at Jokela Prowest, east of Park Rapids.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) sanctioned both the Xtreme Bulls and Saturday's rodeo. Top winners in each event earn points toward qualifying in the National Finals Rodeo in December.
A drizzle of rain let up just in time to accommodate the crowd on Friday.
"For the first time in 20 years, we did a semi-pro division," said ProWest producer Randy Jokela. On Thursday night, he said, "we accepted six bull riders, and we got a different group of bulls for these guys. I'd like to say my nephew made me do it, and he ended up being the winner."
Luke Jokela of Cold Spring won Thursday's semi-pro event.
"He's only ridden bulls two years," said Randy.
Randy said attendance each night of the bull ride was approximately 5,000. "The weather was wonderful," he said. "As a whole, everything went well. Our sponsors and fans were very pleased."
Injuries included a broken arm, a broken nose, and a barrel racer and a bull rider both knocked unconscious.
Jokela said the most unique part of the weekend results was that "a Minnesota bull rider ended up winning the Xtreme Bulls competition, and another one won the bull riding in the rodeo (on Saturday). We had 19 states represented in the United States and Canada, with some big name cowboys who either drove or flew into Park Rapids, and a number of them didn't even receive a check."
In addition to bull-riding action, entertainment included mutton-busting competitions and Moto X stunts, comic repartee featuring announcer Racer Botkin and rodeo clown Mark Swingler, and a dance following the competition each night.
Among those traveling to taste Native American frybread, fried cheese curds, lemonade and the dirt kicked up by bucking bulls were Mona Rogen of Winnipeg, Manitoba and her husband.
"We wanted to come and see this bull riding," she said. "We came to see some family and friends and the whole July 4 celebration."
Melinda Berscheid of Kimball was among a group of 10 friends and family members who attend both events every year. "We usually come from July 3 through the weekend," she said. "We just started doing it as a family."
William and Rachel Mack of Park Rapids brought their four kids, all wearing matching cowboy hats. Though the bull riding show is becoming a family tradition, no one in the family has actually ridden a bull. Yet.
"They're doing the mutton busting," William said, indicating their two young sons. "We've got sheep at home."
Bull riding results
In the first round, Denton Fugate of Niangua, Mo. placed first with 80.5 points on a bull named Dakota Savage. Coy Thorson of Fergus Falls placed second with 80 points; John Young and Colton Byram tied for third with 79 points; Corey Maier of Timber Lake, S.D. placed fifth with 78 points; Dakota Eagleburger placed sixth with 77 points; Matt Palmer of Claremore, Okla. tied with Tate Smith for seventh with 76 points.
In the second round, Thorson placed first with 86 points on High Voltage; Daylon Swearingen of Rochelle, Ga. placed second with 84.5 points; Quentin Vaught placed third with 83.5 points; Tanner Schmidt of Belle Fourche, S.D. placed fourth with 82.5 points; Parker Breding of Edgar, Mont. placed fifth with 82 points; Blake Dunsmore of Forest Lake placed sixth with 81 points; and James Harper of Kentwood, La. and Levi Berends of Maynard tied for seventh with 78.5 points.
In average rankings, Thorson placed first with 166 points on two head; Breding, second with 155.5 points; Berends, third with 151 points; Harper, fourth with 144.5 points; Swearingen, fifth with 84.5 points on one head; Vaught, sixth with 83.5 points; Schmidt, seventh with 82.5 points; and Dunsmore, eighth with 81 points.
Stock was provided by five livestock contractors.