Professional rodeo action barrels into Park Rapids
Park Rapids becomes Minnesota's "Rodeo Capital" this weekend at the Jokela ProWest grounds.
When the 43rd annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Rodeo and Headwaters Xtreme Bulls charge into town, Park Rapids becomes Minnesota’s “Rodeo Capital” over the Fourth of July.
From July 2 to 4, it’s three nights of rip-snorting bulls and the nation’s top cowboys seeking thrills and high-stakes money.
The outdoor action includes bucking broncos, barrel racing and more. It’s held at the Jokela ProWest grounds, located east on Hwy. 34.
Because of the amount of professional rodeos held over the Fourth of July, it’s called “Cowboy Christmas,” said Randy Jokela, event founder and a Park Rapids High School graduate.
Since Park Rapids is PRCA sanctioned, all points earned in the events help contestants qualify for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), held in Las Vegas each December.
On Thursday and Friday, PRCA’s elite contestants from all over the country will compete against other world-class athletes and ride the nation’s toughest bucking stock, vying for NFR qualification.
“Their athletic ability and professionalism are second to none,” says Jokela.
A full slate of rodeo activity continues July 2 through July 3 – from bareback, saddle bronc and steer wrestling to calf roping, barrel racing, team roping and bull riding. New this year is professional women’s breakaway roping.
Each night features new contestants in all events.
Forty-some competitors will lunge out of the chute at the Headwaters Xtreme Bulls event July 4. It’s slated to be “the largest one-day, professional bull ride in the history of Minnesota,” Jokela said.
Ornery bulls and significant prize money attract the best bull riders.
Jokela said not to worry about missing Park Rapids’ grand fireworks display that evening. With two exits, there will be plenty of time to get to the dusk show, he pointed out. Patrons are also welcome to watch the fireworks from the rodeo decks, with a cool beverage in hand while the live band plays.
Freestyle Moto X riders will perform nightly. The spotlight will shine on three-time X Games champion Scott Murray. He’s the second person in history to land the double backflip to dirt.
“He’s so pumped about this,” Jokela said of Murray’s appearance in Park Rapids.
Kids, ages 5 to 7, can sign up for sheep riding. Parents must register their child online in advance. A limited number of slots are available.
Tickets are half-price for kids under 11 on July 2.
Gates open at 5 p.m. The action begins at 7 p.m., rain or shine.
After the dust settles, live bands entertain under a huge, open-air pavilion.
“We have great bands every night,” Jokela said.
Advance, discounted and VIP tickets are available at www.parkrapidsbullride.com, along with more information.
Jokela encourages everyone to purchase tickets online to avoid the waiting line and grab your seat of choice upon arrival at the gates.
Randy Schmutz, an NFR-qualified rodeo announcer, will emcee the rodeo and bull ride.
Camping is available, with more campsites than ever before, Jokela added.
About six to eight volunteers are needed to assist with car parking. Jokela is looking for responsible adults or young adults. The reward is watching the event for free.