Emerado, North Dakota

By Jean Wayt

It was in mid July 1951 and we were at Lincoln, Nebraska for the rodeo. Feek Tooke, a stock contractor noted for his great bucking horses told us about some farmer up at Emerado, North Dakota who was having a rodeo next week and needed some cowboys real bad and asked if we would come to it. Now this guy didn’t know anything about putting on a rodeo and hadn’t advertised much or soon enough. He raised a lot of flax and had mortgaged this year’s entire crop with a bank to pay for the prize money and everything else involved and he was really desperate.

It blew my mind to think that people do this and it’s sad but true. Dad asked where this place was when Feek told him dad said, “THAT’S ALMOST IN CANADA“!! After a family discussion Doug, Milt, dad and mom and the rest of us reluctantly decided, ”Why Not“?

So we left Lincoln and headed straight north through Nebraska, South Dakota and almost through the state of North Dakota to Grand Forks about 15 miles south of the Canadian Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Boarded on the west by Montana and is the Geographic Center of the North American Continent and is located in Pierce County in the north central part of the state. The Red River Valley occupies the west third of the state forming part of The Great Plains. Emerado is just a few miles west of the Red River that travels on South and empties into the Missouri River. Noted for having short hot summers Emerado, which sits close to the Turtle River is about twenty miles north-west of Grand Forks that sits right on the Minnesota and North Dakota borders.

As we were traveling north, seeing country that we had never seen and admiring the farms which were much more numerous than ranches and went through Sioux Falls South Dakota singing,”Sioux City Sue“ and as we got closer to Grand Forks it was the song “Red River Valley“. It was, if nothing else, a real learning experience! After camping over a couple nights and traveling half way across the United States, going north and south we finally arrived at Emerado, North Dakota and we were sure glad to get there!

We met Jim, a very nice person as were the whole family and they were very excited that we had arrived also. Jim had cleared away about 5 or 6 acres of trees and brush and had a pretty nice place for us and all the other contestants to camp. He had built a good arena and set of bucking chutes and some real nice bleachers along one side of the arena.

The next day after our arrival Cy Taillen and his wife drove in to see us and we had such a nice visit. Cy lived at Fargo at that time. We knew Cy for many years and he was a real gentleman and always dressed in a suit. He discussed the “rodeo situation” with us and had helped Jim with some much-needed information about putting on a rodeo. Feek Tooke had helped him as well.

It was a two day rodeo and when the first performance started Milt and Doug had been hired as pick-up men, dad was one of the judges, Doug’s wife Mary was one of the timers, I was trick riding and trick roping and Milt and Doug was roping and dogging. Cy Taillen was the announcer. Jim kept seeing how many cars were coming up the road to see how many spectators were coming and there wasn’t a lot. There were enough other contestants to have to have a fair rodeo but nothing overwhelming. It was real hot and miserable but we managed to participate in
a two-day rodeo. But Jim wasn’t very happy afterwards. We all really felt so sorry for him and visited with him before we left. We congratulated him but the poor guy was actually crying and talking about his bank mortgage and said he’d never have another rodeo again. And he didn’t. But Milt and Doug must have done a pretty good job of pick-up men because they got a letter from Feek Tooke wanting them to work for him next summer at several of his rodeos as pick-up men but they turned down his offer.