139th Mandan Rodeo Days

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MANDAN, N.D. - There's a rodeo in Arizona that claims to be the oldest in the United States, but it has not been around for 139-years.

The 139th Annual Mandan Rodeo Days is underway.

A number of events take place this week in Mandan but the rodeo is one the rest seem to revolve around. Jason Middlestadt is the rodeo chairman and he says it takes about a week to convert the race track into the rodeo grounds.

That transformation was completed yesterday and day one of the three day rodeo is today.

"We've got about 540 entries in the rodeo this year and out of those entries are the world's best that are coming in each event. We have world champions, NFR qualifiers all across the board most of them are going to be here," said Middlestadt.

The period around the 4th is called "Cowboy Christmas" because they are so busy at this time of the year.

Getting around 540 contestants done in three days would be impossible without slack.

Middlestadt says they strive to keep each performance night to around 2 1/2 hours so there's a draw in some events and they complete in the rodeo when the stands are not full of fans.

"Slack is exactly what it sounds like, it's extra people that get to compete before the actual performance. So for instance, we can only run 12 barrel racers a day so it's 36 barrel racers throughout the rodeo but we have 110 of them entered so those extra ones will run before or after the performance," said Middlestadt.

Some slack happened this morning, so the rodeo is underway but the first performance is tonight at 7:30 Central Time.