Getting back to normal
Mandaree hosts Fort Berthold kickoff rodeo
By Jerry W. Kram
It has been a weird spring across the Fort Berhold Reservation. With the COVID-19 epidemic canceling all spring sports and closing schools, community events and gatherings have been put on hold or canceled to slow the spread of the disease that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives elsewhere across the world.
But in Mandaree, the local Rodeo Committee brought back a touch of normality back to the community.
The Mandaree Rodeo Committee organized a Indian Rodeo that drew dozens of riders, ropers and other cowboys to the rodeo grounds near where the new school building is being built. Arena Manager Michael Howe said the Committee worked hard to put together an event that entertained, but also followed the Center for Disease Control Guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Up until a short time ago, everything was up in the air,” Howe said. “We called a couple of organizations. If we wanted to have the event or not depended on what their best advice was. We came up with a plan to keep everyone safe, including our animals, contestants and spectators. We tried to mitigate any problems from the current epidemic.”
Spectators, volunteers and competitors all had to fill out a health form and get their temperature taken before they could enter the rodeo grounds. Anyone with a fever was turned away. The uses of masks and gloves were encouraged. The announcers repeatedly reminded the crowd to maintain a safe distance from others both in the stands and at the concession area.
Howe was happy with the number of entries in the rodeo. Because of the pandemic, entries were limited to residents of the Fort Berthold Reservation. That meant that although the Committee is affiliated with the Indian National Finals Rodeo and Northern Badlands Indian Rodeo Committee, this event was not sanctions by those bodies so entries could be restricted.