Hawley Rodeo kicks off Clay County summer

Flag girls ride out at the start of the Hawley rodeo carrying banners of the Armed Forces.

It’s a sure sign that summer is really back – watching broncs, bulls and cowboys kick up their heels at the American Heroes PRCA Rodeo in Hawley June 10-11.

The 2022 edition of Clay County’s favorite ridin’ and ropin’ is expected to fill the hillside along Highway 10 half an hour east of Moorhead with thousands of fans, as it has every year since 1960 – interrupted just once, in 2020, by the pandemic. Once again, the arena along the Buffalo River will welcome hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls, most from Minnesota, the Dakotas and surrounding states, but also a sampling of top riders and ropers from the national rodeo circuit.

“It’s always a fun surprise to see who comes here to compete,” says Gretchen Kirchmann, who works with event producer Barnes PRCA Rodeo of Cherokee, Iowa. Last year, one of those competitors was former world champion barrel racer Fallon Taylor of Whitestone, Texas. “Throughout the years, we’ve had a great line-up,” she adds.

Jesse Pope, a champion bareback rider from Kansas, has been a Hawley regular. In 2021, he won the PRCA’s reserve world bareback riding championship. Another crowd favorite is Tanner Aus of Granite Falls, Minnesota, who is drawn to the area on visits to his grandmother’s cabin near Hawley. Another star: gelding Hawley Falls, the bucking horse that the Barnes company named after the city.

Professional rodeo clown and barrel man Trent McFarland is making his first appearance in Hawley this year. Clad in bright, primary colors and Wrangler baggies, he entertains the crowd with trick roping and attempts to train his mule. Away from the rodeo grounds, Trent is an emergency-room nurse; but in the arena, he’s a master at fascinating kids and getting the crowd involved in his shenanigans.

The U.S. Coast Guard bullfighters will be making an appearance in the community and signing autographs after each night’s performance.

Kirchmann hopes that online ticket sales break the rodeo’s all-time record set in 2021. “Ordering online is a good way to make sure you get a good seat on the hillside,” she suggests. With diesel prices reaching unprecedented heights, she adds, strong attendance is especially critical this year.

The show begins at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

As in years gone by, many Hawley organizations sponsor fund-raising events at the rodeo – among them the Hawley FFA, local Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs and others, including the Hawley Golden Riders.

To pre-order tickets, go to www.hawleyrodeo.com, or call 218-483-3331. General admission for adults is $17 in advance and $20 at the door, with children from 4 to 12 $8 ($10 at the gate) and under 3, free. The whole family can attend Friday’s performance for the one-time cost of $54 (advance sales only). A military discount is available with ID at the grounds on the days of performance.

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