Faithful fans: Minot man has never missed a year of the Y’s Men’s Rodeo

Gordon and Darlene Dahl pose outside of their farm south of Minot. Gordon, who lives on the farm where he was raised, has never missed a year of the Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo. Since 1961, Darlene has only missed one year; when one of their daughters was born, in 1968. Courtesy photo

Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo

Minot, N.D. – Gordon Dahl has never missed a year of the Y’s Men’s Rodeo in Minot.

Even when the blizzard of 1958 hit, with thirty-plus inches of snow, the seventeen-year-old and his buddies dug out, chained up his friend’s brand new 1958 Ford, and made it on Highway 83 to Minot for the rodeo.

Back then, the rodeo was held in the city auditorium, and they had the pick of their seats: very few other people had ventured out to the rodeo that snowy day. “We bought general admission tickets,” Dahl remembers, “and we could sit anywhere we wanted to.”

Dahl, who was born in 1941, began going to the rodeo with his parents, Bert and Anna, its first year, 1955. His parents were big rodeo fans, attending rodeos around the area.

Dahl was born and raised on a farm south of Velva, and when he was three years old, his dad bought the farm where he lives now, and moved the family there, eighteen miles south of Minot. He graduated from Sawyer High School in 1960, then came straight back to his dad’s farm.

He married Darlene in 1961, and four children: two boys and two girls, joined the family.

Darlene got into the tradition, attending the rodeo with her husband. Since 1961, the only year she’s missed the rodeo was the year one of their kids, a daughter, was born, in 1968. She was in the hospital with the baby while Gordon was at the rodeo with the boys.

The rodeo has changed since its beginning in 1955, Gordon said. The venue has changed, from the city auditorium to the State Fair Center. Advancing technology has changed the rodeo, too, with sound systems and a video replay board. But the talent at the rodeo is still the best. The specialty acts “have always been good. They get some top notch stuff. The Y’s Men have done a good job.” And the announcers are one of Gordon’s favorites. “The ones they have now are second to none. They are the top of the world, and that makes the rodeo.”

The couple attends other rodeos, in addition to the one in Minot. They’ve been to the National Finals Rodeo, pro rodeo’s world championship, in Las Vegas, a couple of times, and to the Mandan rodeo, and some bull riding events. And they follow their grandchildren, of whom some competed. A grandson, Lane Dahl, was the 2013 North Dakota High School steer wrestling champion.

Gordon’s sons and now grandsons are farming alongside him, in their crop and cattle operation. Their sons did a bit of bull riding when they were young, and the daughters barrel raced.

He and Darlene try to sit in the same section every year, on the east side, towards the bucking chutes, where they can see the action.

And in early October, the Dahls can be found in Minot at the rodeo. They hope there won’t be thirty inches of snow to fight in getting to the rodeo. Dahl has a description for his and his friends’ trip to the rodeo in 1958: “We were young and foolish,” he laughed.

The Y’s Men’s Rodeo, hosting the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo, takes place at 6:30 pm on October 5-6-7 and at 1:30 pm on October 8. Tickets range in price from $23 for silver seating to $33 for gold seating. Children ages twelve and under are $13 in the silver seating; in the gold seating, there is no discount. Tickets can be purchased online at www.MinotYsMensRodeo.com or at the gate. For more information, visit www.MinotYsMensRodeo.com.