140th Mandan Rodeo Days adds freestyle bullfighting July 2-4

MANDAN, North Dakota (May 31, 2019) One of North Dakota’s oldest and most well-known events celebrates its 140th anniversary July 2-4. The Mandan Rodeo Days Celebration, presented by Dakota Community Bank & Trust, brings family fun, patriotism and community tradition to Dacotah Centennial Park.

Rugged rodeo competition, parades, festivals, and fireworks are all part of Mandan Rodeo Days. It’s North Dakota’s largest Independence Day celebration, its oldest and largest regular-season rodeo and a community-wide tradition whose roots stretch back to 1881 -10 years before statehood.

Rodeo chairman Jason Mittlestadt said his group is committed to bringing the best in professional rodeo to Dacotah Centennial Park. “We’re excited to showcase one of the fastest-growing extreme sports – American freestyle bullfighting this year,” he said.

Freestyle bullfighting has been described as “the most dangerous dance on dirt. It matches the skill, finesse and athleticism of the bullfighter against the power, size and ferocity of the bull. Both man and beast are judged with the highest score winning. The Mandan Rodeo is part of a national tour by Shorty Gorham’s American Freestyle Bullfighting that ends in Las Vegas in November.

Many crowd favorites will be back — rodeo clown Matt Tarr, determined young mutton busters and in-arena interviews of winners.

Madison McDonald-Thomas brings her full Magic in Motion acrobatics on horseback experience to Mandan. McDonald-Thomas, who has been part of the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) the past eight years, and nine-year-old Piper Yule, a Canadian who has been trick riding for nearly half of her life, perform dramatic feats from the backs of their running horses.

Last year’s rodeo drew some of the biggest stars of professional rodeo to compete in the seven contest events, including four-time world champion Kaycee Feild, who won the bareback riding, and Wade Sundell, who won the saddle bronc riding for the second consecutive year en route to his first world championship. The 2018 rodeo was also named Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) Medium Rodeo of the Year.

Fans are encouraged to get their tickets early. Advance tickets for the rodeo are available now online and in person at all Petro Serve locations in Bismarck and Mandan. Other ticket outlets are Boot Barn in Bismarck, Butcher Block Meats, Dan’s Supermarket and the Mandan Progress Organization in Mandan. Reserved seat tickets are only available at the Petro Serve on Main Street in Mandan from now through July 1. Tickets are also available at the gate on a first-come, first-served basis.

The rodeo begins Tuesday, July 2 at 7:30 p.m. with Family Night. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with free meal for the first 1000 fans. Plenty of kids’ activities are planned—stick horse barrel racing, a petting zoo, photo and autograph opportunities, and a dunk tank featuring Mandan’s own rodeo star Chad Berger. The first 50 kids receive a free cowboy hat and a chance to win a prize package plus meet and greet experience. There will also be free 100 stick horses for kids 6 and under.

Tuesday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. is Patriot Night. Gates again open at 5 p.m. and 50 children age 6 and under will receive a free stick horse. Spectators are encouraged to wear red, white and blue to honor both active-duty military and veterans. The evening concludes with a free fireworks display.

The final Independence Day rodeo performance begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4. The day begins early in downtown Mandan with the Mandan Road Race, followed by the Art in the Park festival (also July 3), the Independence Day Parade and much more. The final night of rodeo ends with North Dakota’s largest fireworks display.

A full schedule of events and details are available online at

–Mandan Rodeo