A bigger-than-ever pot lured racers from all over the state and beyond to the Dunn County Fair’s 4th Annual Jackpot Barrel Race on Sunday in Killdeer.
By Jennifer Strange
A record turnout saw 145 racers in the first barrel race’s Open Division, 13 racers in the Peewee Division, 20 racers in the Youth Division and 12 racers in the Senior Division.
“Seniors is my age, not seniors in high school,” explained organizer Linda Vigen, who has been barrel racing for 30 years.
Vigen ran two horses in the event. “Both of them had good runs,” she said. “When I run a time close to these girls, I feel pretty good.”
Two races were held during the nine-hour event and no horses slipped or fell on the well-tended rodeo grounds.
An appearance and barrel run by a local celebrity kept the day humming.
“We had Britany Diaz here,” said Vigen. Originally from Mandan, ND, Diaz is a two-time National Finals Rodeo barrel racer. “She lives in Texas now with her husband, but was around the country and said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of money at this pot; I want to run!’”
The fair week’s events at the Killdeer Rodeo Arena included 4H Achievement Days, Buckaroo Games, Team Roping, Ranch Rodeo and Barrel Races. Producing these ranching and rodeo activities was a team effort between the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer and the Dunn County Fair Board.
“We really tried to show how these two places work together,” said Vigen. “We wanted to bring visibility to the cultural center and rodeo grounds so that people can see what they could do here.”
Big events like the fair and other cultural and heritage-related happenings generate business throughout the area. “People fuel up, they go out to eat,” Vigen said. They buy groceries and supplies and stay in hotels.
And when people come to town to be entertained and educated, they’re reminded of the area’s ranching and rodeo history. “That’s what we were going for,” said Vigen. “We’re telling people: Hey, we ranchers are still here!”
“So many people were so generous this year,” said Vigen. She thanked her fellow Dunn County Fair Board members: Terrald Bang, Garven Gullickson, Sue Powers-Hartman, Alana Tomjack, David Twist and Wendall Vigen.
Vigen had a special thank-you for Lynell Sandvick of rural Killdeer.
“We cannot forget Lynell—she’s a lifelong Saddle Club member and helps us with everything, all the time,” Vigen said. “She really is the queen bee of the whole fair.”
The following sponsors provided money and prizes: American Bank Center, Bar Z Ranch, BreAnn Hauck Insurance LLC, Buckskin Bar & Grill, Delta Constructors, Dunn County Fair Board, Embroidery Arts, First International Bank & Trust, Frontier Services, Hinrich’s SuperValu, Leanin’ Pole Arena, Open Cross Fencing, Prairie Implements, Running Horse LLC, Tana & Larry Staal, Taylor Bang Cattle Sales, Terrald Ban Ranch, Trotters Construction, Western Choice Cooperatives, Wild Bill KDIX Radio I-94.