The Mandan rodeo brings cowboys and cowgirls together from all over and while the competitors are the main attraction, there are many other key players.
KX News spoke with two guys who both play an important role in rodeos, and they both say it’s the love for the atmosphere that keeps them coming back.
Richard Ratley, a professional bullfighter, and Matt Tarr, a rodeo clown, say growing up working in the rodeo was not what they expected to do.
“I mean I went to college to play baseball right out of high school and never once thought I was going to rodeo. I grew up in high school with some guys that rodeo and always thought it was fun but I never thought I’d do it. Then got hurt playing baseball, got cut from the team. I transferred schools and started college rodeoing,” shared Ratley.
“When you’re a kid, you dress up as a clown or something for Halloween. Don’t think much of it. But it’s a heck of a way to live. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” shared Tarr.
Both men say when they originally began rodeoing, they weren’t in the positions they are in today.
“Fought bulls one time at a little deal down there in Kansas where I’m from and never got on another one. I found out I better on the ground than I was on the back of ’em,” shared Ratley.
“Clown didn’t show up to the rodeo we were at or he had to go somewhere else, and the guy putting on the rodeo said, ‘Hey you want to try this?’ Said, ‘Yeah I’ll try this.’ I mean try everything once. It worked out, he kept hiring me,” shared Tarr.
While cowboy protection is the priority, they say it takes a real team effort to get out there each time.
“We’re in there to save the bull rider, but we’re also there for each other. And Matt’s there in the barrel. Well, he keeps everyone entertained but he’s also our third man. So if something– if one of us were to go down or both of us were to go down, you know, he’ll pack that barrel in there and get that bull’s attention away from us to give us a chance to get back up,” shared Ratley.
“This barrel is like a bomb shelter. I mean I could go out, I can pick it up and go in there, get them guys out of trouble if they get in a bind. And that fighting bulls all them years kind of helped me know where to be to help those guys. And get them out of a jam. Hopefully, before they get into it. Those are all– They’re some of my best friends. I don’t want them getting hurt,” shared Tarr.
Both men will be here all weekend and plan to leave Monday and go onto the next rodeo.
They say they are just as big of fans of the rodeo as those in the stands and it’s the action-packed fun jobs that keep them coming back.