MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Minot’s hosting the top rodeo cowboys and cowgirls at regional rodeo finals.

According to a news release, the toughest, most talented men and women in the Badlands rodeo world will be in Minot this weekend.

And they’ll be competing at the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo, to prove who’s the best of the best.

The circuit finals, the crown jewel of pro rodeo for the Dakotas will take place on Oct. 14-16 in Minot at the North Dakota State Fair Center.

And the top twelve in each of the eight events stampede into town in hopes of winning the Badlands gold buckle.

For bull rider Jestyn Woodward from Custer S.D., it will be his first trip to the circuit finals.

The 18-year-old’s pro rodeo career didn’t start easily, after he made a qualified ride at his very first pro rodeo, he bucked off at the next dozen rodeos.

By early July, his confidence was back and he began riding well again.

The son of Jacey Woodward, the 1994 Badlands Circuit bull riding champion and a 2022 graduate of Custer High School, he will continue his pro rodeo career this fall, forgoing college.

In the saddle bronc riding, the leader, Cole Elshere, suffered a broken leg in July at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming and sat out until August.

But the Faith S.D. mane had won enough money to hold onto the number one spot until he returned.

“I had a really great Fourth of July run, so I took a pretty good lead,” said Elshere.

This is Elshere’s 13th circuit finals qualification, and he loves coming to Minot.

“We have a great time there,” he said. “Everybody brings their families and we hang out for three days. At the hotel, we spend a lot of time at the pool. The kids play together, and we enjoy a few days off.”

He also loves the caliber of bucking horses the Badlands Circuit offers.

“The Badlands horses are just phenomenal. We have such a great selection of horses to pick from. That makes it fun, too. We get to get on great horses for three performances in a row.”

For barrel racer Jessica Routier, circuit finals is old hat.

This marks the 17th time the Buffalo S.D. cowgirl has qualified for a circuit finals, including the four times in the Great Lakes Circuit.

She’ll be aboard the phenomenal mare Fiery Miss West, “Missy,” an 11-year-old palomino who has four times been voted the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association Barrel Horse of the Year.

At the 18 Badlands rodeos Routier rode Missy this year, she won money at 16 of them, which speaks to the horse’s consistency.

“She just likes her job,” said Routier.

In steer wrestling, a special horse has gotten Nebraska cowboy Reed Kraeger to the top of the standings.

Kraeger of Waco, N.E. didn’t think he would ride his horse, Tyco after the 16-year-old gelding came down with pleuropneumonia in July of 2021.

After two months spent at Kansas State University’s veterinary clinic and seven different medications, veterinarians finally found a human medicine that helped him heal.

“I couldn’t be more tickled,” Kraeger said, of his horse’s recovery. “We almost lost him. I knew he had the heart” to overcome the illness.

Kraeger has rodeoed with two other steer wrestling Badlands contestants, Logan Lemmels and Cyler Dowling, hazing for them and offering rodeo advice when needed. This is Lemmels first circuit finals qualification, and Kraeger takes pride in knowing he helped Lemmel get to Minot.

“I’m more excited about getting Logan to his first circuit finals,” he said, “and how excited Logan was about it.”

Kraeger’s wife, Rebekah, and their son and daughter will travel to Minot to enjoy the weekend.

Other first-place leaders heading into this year’s circuit finals include:

  • Bareback rider Ty Breuer from Mandan
  • Tie-down roper Clint Kindred from Oral, S.D.
  • Team ropers Clay Ullery from Valleyview, A.L. (heading) and Matt Zancanelle from Aurora, S.D. (heeling)
  • Breakaway roper Brandy Schaak from Chadron, N.E.

The Badlands Circuit Finals takes place in Minot at the North Dakota State Fair Center.

Performances begin at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 and 15, and at 1 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Tickets are $20 for adult general admission and $10 for kids ages 3-12.

Gold buckle seats, the five rows closest to the arena floor, are $30 for all ages.

Tickets can be purchased online and at North Country Mercantil in Minot at 2000 20th Ave SE.

For more information, visit Rodeo Minot’s website, Facebook page, or Instagram page.