The first Blaisdell Rodeo was held on this date in 1957. The Blaisdell Rodeo Club organized on August 7, 1956. The goal of the 11 men who started it was to build a rodeo arena for the youth of the community.
The club was formed with $50 membership dues, $2 annual dues, 2 dances and a lot of free labor to build an arena on land furnished by Andy Moore. Its support and growth came from rodeo contestants, fans and businesses in Blaisdell and area towns.
The arena is 1_ miles southeast of Blaisdell. For the first rodeo on June 23, 1957, the club contracted with Neil McGrady to furnish 4 buckles, and Nick Ganes agreed to furnish 35 bucking horses at $7/head.
Now in its 50th year and 3rd generation, the Blaisdell Rodeo is a member of the North Dakota Rodeo Association and is proud of its wooden chutes, which came from the old Sanish Rodeo grounds. The chutes add the flavor of old-time rodeos. In the late 1990s, the club added a covered grandstand and steel panels around the arena to make it more user friendly.
Over the years, some fine rodeo stock has come through the arena, horses like Blaisdell Blue and Anchors Aweigh and bulls like Black Head and Zabra Dunn. Many of them were raised around Blaisdell.
When a lot of larger towns have not been successful in maintaining a rodeo, the Blaisdell Rodeo’s growth has been gradual, but steady. From its beginnings with a handful of events and only 40 to 50 contestants, it has grown into 9 main events, with contestants numbering over 300 in its peak years.
The Blaisdell Rodeo is not afraid to try new ideas, like being the first to sponsor junior barrel racing, the wild horse scramble, junior steer riding, sheep riding for the youth and, of course, the Blaisdell Wild Horse Race, which not many rodeos offer anymore. In 2005, the club started a youth “Play Day” rodeo for contestants under 16 years of age.
The Blaisdell Rodeo arena is also used for ranch rodeos by area cowboys and cowgirls and for 4-H and saddle club horse shows. Nightly team roping is held during the summers, and the arena is also used for horse training and working young horses. The club supports other area needs, as well, through benefit dinners and various events.
By Cathy A. Langemo