Rodeo time: Family returns for James River Rodeo
One thing for contestants that sets the James River Rodeo apart from others is family.
"I'm at home visiting," said Shanda Morgan, North Dakota Miss Rodeo 1999, now a resident of Springtown, Texas. "It's a good rodeo and I'm at home visiting and riding with my boys."
Morgan's son Kyler, 6, said he enjoys rodeos with his family as he stood next to his horse Midas.
"I can't get on him by myself, I have to have mom or dad help me," Kyler said.
Kyler and his brother Jayden, 8, will both compete in barrel racing, while mom will compete in roping and barrel racing.
This is Jayden's first time at the James River Rodeo but he still has advice for anyone who wants to compete in barrel racing.
"Hold on to him and go fast," he said next to his horse, Popeye. "He goes so fast around the barrels, I hold him back a lot."
Getting her family out and involved in the rodeo is why Morgan spends her free time on horseback.
"It's fun, it's a lifestyle," she said. "There's nothing like this -- it's the only real sport left."
For Morgan's brother, Jayce Doan, 19, McKenzie, N.D., it's more than a lifestyle.
Doan has a scholarship for Montana State College for rodeo.
"You just got to be passionate about what you're doing and not be scared," Doan said. "If you put forth the dedication and hard work you can do anything."
Doan rode Friday night with a hairline fracture in his arm, after sustaining an injury in practice in spring.
"It's a way of life I guess," he said. "I've been rodeoing since before I can remember."
Across the way, Morgan waved at two of her rodeo friends there to compete.
"We're a bit past the age of being super competitive but we have a dang good time," said Carmen Cain of Bismarck.
When Cain isn't in the classroom at St. Mary's in Bismarck teaching biology or physics, she's with her friend Bev Peterson, hitting up close to 15 rodeos a year.
"We're just having a ball," Peterson said. "It's the best part of my life, it really is."
The duo has been competing rodeos together for the past 17 years.
"On a typical day you wouldn't be able to say 'she's a cowgirl' because I don't wear my boots to work," Cain said.
This year there are 514 entries in the James River Rodeo. The event continues tonight at 6:30 p.m. on the north side of the Stutsman County Fairgrounds. Contestants at the rodeo Friday and today could be anywhere from 5 to 75 in age.
Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children.
At Saturday's rodeo all children under 12 will have the opportunity to pull a ribbon off a calf's tail. A blue one for boys and a pink one for girls. Two bicycles will be given away. Whoever grabs a ribbon will win a bike.
"There's really nothing like rodeoing in the Dakotas" Morgan said. "It's not the same."
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org