Following in the family’s footsteps

Farm Forum

MINOT, N.D. – Nancy Kramer is carrying on her family’s legacy.

The Minot, N.D. woman follows in her great-uncle’s rodeo footsteps, as she helps with the annual Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo in Minot, N.D.

Her great-uncle Maurice LaValley produced some of the first rodeos in the area, on the home ranch, south and east of Granville N.D., for the Rough Riders Rodeo Association. She remembers him, dressed as a cowboy, with his leather cuffs, his initials and brand on them.

Nancy’s dad, Lannie Kunkel, took her and her sister to the Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo when they were kids, and when she was in high school, she worked as an usher at the rodeo.

Now she works as secretary for the Y’s Men, who put on the annual event, which hosts the Badlands Circuit Finals, pro rodeo’s championship for North and South Dakota.

She’s worked as secretary for the past 23 years, taking care of accounts receivable, and helping with the program and ticket sales. At the rodeo, she helps organize the sponsor flags the queens carry around the arena on horseback.

It’s a way to stay connected to the rodeo world and the horse world, in which her daughter showed and competed. “It keeps me involved in horses and rodeo,” she said. She also loves seeing the rodeo people and families she sees only once a year, at the Y’s Men’s Rodeo.

Profits from the rodeo go to fund the Triangle Y Camp at Lake Sakakawea at Garrison, N.D., and since the rodeo began hosting the Badlands Circuit Finals in 2007, “it has changed everything,” Nancy said, “from the number of contestants to the dollars we are able to send to camp.” And it’s changed the amount of work as well. For the rodeo committee men, no longer is rodeo something to work on a few months out of the year. “For the guys, it’s a year-round thing. It’s not just, oh, yes, it’s August, let’s hurry up and get this thing going.”

She estimates she’s rarely, if ever, missed a year of the rodeo. And the hardest day is the final day of the rodeo, the Sunday performance. “The worst day is the last day,” she said. “I’m sad it’s over.”

She credits the Y’s Men with the work they do and how well they treat her. “They’ve treated me very well all these years. They’re like my family, and they’re a big part of the rodeo, and they deserve credit, too. They’re the main reason for the rodeo and why it’s been so successful.”

This year’s Y’s Men’s Rodeo is October 8-11 at the North Dakota State Fair Center in Minot. Performances begin at 6:30 pm on October 8-10 and at 1:30 pm on October 11. Tickets can be purchased online, and more information can be found at