2013-06-20 / Top News

Beaver Valley Horse Club presents rodeo June 29-30

By Les Ohlhauser

Horses and people have always been a long partnership tradition of the Dakotas. The Beaver Valley Horse Club can boast of being one of the longest sanctioned clubs in the United States. The club was organized approximately 50 years ago. Having close to 100 members is a noteworthy number as well. Leo Mattern was given credit as the person who organized the club.

The American Quarter Horse Association has approximately 3311.94 people who have horses registered in the association. How many horses? There are 3,189,605 horses in that registry! Now if one was to count how many grade horses that are not registered the number would be astounding.

The Beaver Valley Horse Club was formed because of horse enthusiasts. In the early years they sponsored quite a few horse shows. Around 1960 they purchased 28 acres from the state of North Dakota, which would be impossible to do so at present date. It was a sealed bid and they won the bid.

This land would be the beginning of a lot of recreational activities in the future years, mostly all to deal with horses and horse activities. Over the years they evolved from horse shows to rodeos and the game plan was established.

Whenever a community was having an event that hosted a parade the members would show up and ride in the parade. Everyone loves a parade and to see that many mounted riders on horses was exceptional.

In 1976, the celebration of the Centennial was going to be a major year for North Dakota. The Beaver Valley Horse Club started their plans for a trail ride that would take them from Eureka, S.D. to Strasburg. It was a two year planning strategy that was hit by an unseen opportunity. In the early sages of the planning the U.S. Army National Guard was asked to assist in the meals along the way. The year of the Centennial the U.S. Government stated they could not assist. It took some correspondence from the planning board to the governor, congressman and a few senators but it worked. The U.S. Army National Guard was allowed to assist. They set up tents and served meals to the 470 people that made the trail ride.

There were horseback riders, wagons, carriages and even some people walked the entire trip! Some of the rules of the trail ride were that if you had a wagon or buggy, it had to have wooden or steel wheels, no rubber was allowed. On that particular ride there were over 350 horses used.

North Dakota is the 19th largest state by area in the U.S.; it is the 48th most populous, with just over 640,000 residents as of 2006. North Dakota was carved out of the northern half of the Dakota Territory and admitted to the Union as the 39th state on Nov. 2, 1889. To celebrate the 100th year anniversary the Beaver Valley Horse Club did another trail ride. This trail ride started out in Strasburg and ended up in Mandan. It was a trail ride that would take three days and included 250 people on horses, wagons, and buggies. The big parade hosted over several hundred horses.

A rodeo arena was to be built. Rodney Grenz of Hazelton was asked byAlbert Backhaus and Jake Krumm to assist in the blueprint of the soon to be rodeo arena. Rodney was a contestant member of the then Rodeo Cowboys Association which would evolve to the present day Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. A trip was made to both Mandan and Mobridge, S.D. to look at their rodeo arenas.

The arena was built and it was used for horse shows and rodeos. Over the years some changes were made, new Powder River bucking chutes were added and the wooden livestock pens became metal panels.

One thing that was not replaced was the announcers stand,commonly known by rodeo personnel as the “Crows Nest.” There is a lot of history that relates back to the first rodeo announcer of the Strasburg Rodeo. T.P. Kongslie was the first rodeo announcer in the 60’s to the early 80’s and worked the Strasburg Rodeo. He was an auctioneer as well and worked the Linton LivestockAuction with Lester Van Beek. T.P. worked a lot of rodeos in both North and South Dakota. His resonant voice was pleasing to the audience complemented with his western humor he made the rodeo fun to attend.

In the early years rodeo announcers were not only the announcer, but they had to bring their own sound. This meant showing up early and getting the speakers set up on the poles and do all of the wiring. Present day announcers have it quite a lot easier. Professional sound people are hired and most of the music is now done by a computer. TP did all of his own sound and it was all Eight Track cassettes. I am pretty sure there are a lot of the younger generations that have never even seen an eight track cassette.

You knew who the announcer was when you drove into the rodeo and heard the song “Strawberry Roan” blared over the speakers. T.P. and Lester were both mentors to me, both getting me started in the auctioneer business and later T.P. would assist in my early career as a rodeo announcer.

When I decided to become an announcer for the PRCA, the rules were that you needed two PRCA announcers and one PRCA rodeo stock contractor to write a letter to the home office to get your approval. Clem McSpadden and Hadley Barrett, two very established announcers were my friends and I worked a lot with them in Texas and Oklahoma. Benny Beutler of the Beutler & Son Rodeo Company headquartered out of Elk City, Okla., was the third link in me getting approved. All three of these people wrote a letter requesting I be accepted as a rodeo announcer for the PRCA.

I remember the phone call I received from one of the membership coordinators who worked at the main office in Colorado Springs, Colo. She told me “Les you have some pretty powerful names on these letters. Congratulations. You are now an official announcer for the PRCA.”

My job at this year’s rodeo will be to keep my audience informed of what is going on inside and outside the arena in the world of professional rodeo. The irony of this job is that when I was a kid growing up near Hazelton, kids were always told that they were to be seen and not heard. When my family, relatives and friends show up to watch the rodeo they will be paying to hear me talk!

The computer is my tool for research on the contestants that will enter the rodeo. The website that I will utilize the most is www.prorodeo.com. It is updated daily and I can tell what a contestant has done in a matter of hours instead of having to look at tons of papers of rodeo results that are several days old. I can in a matter of minutes receive my information. My laptop computer is with me and it is my main tool.

Having been a former contestant in the events of steer wrestling, saddle bronc and bull riding makes it a lot easier for me to explain what is going on in the world of rodeo to my audience. The key to any rodeo announcer is getting his audience involved with the rodeo. M game plan is to have fun and make sure everyone enjoys the rodeo. I announce quite a few rodeos each year, but this year will be very special to me. I will be announcing the rodeo that I got on my first bull in 1972. It started my career that has spanned over 35 years. I look forward to meeting old friends and meeting new friends.

When I was talking to the rodeo committee tickets will be available at the gate to purchase for each event. The grandstands and standing room for spectators is around 1,500 to 2,000 people, so get there early and get you a seat! Mark your calendars folks the rodeo is coming to Strasburg, June 29 and 30.

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