Minnesota boasts of a most revered horse riding culture which is one of the major attractions in the state. Consequently, rodeo is a famous sport all round the state, attracting contestants and spectators from around the country and beyond. Minnesota Rodeo Association (MRA) is one of the clubs that has nurtured and promoted the sport in Minnesota over the years, making it as popular and grand as it is today.
The Minnesota Rodeo Association was formed in 1993 by the founding President Tom Sonenstahl. He first established a small paper club with a few members. A year later, the club had grown and a point system was established through which to reward contestants. By the year 1995, a total of 250 members had joined and MRA became well known especially since it could organize more rodeos than any other organization, which in turn led to an increase in membership.
The popularity they were gaining attracted sponsors who made it possible to host a large finals rodeo where contestants were awarded more prize money and other awards besides the association being able to host a huge end-of- year awards banquet. Ever since, sponsors and the number of rodeos held as well as the prizes awarded to champions in different rodeos grew. In addition, rodeos have become a major tourist attraction, drawing people in droves every year, to witness this most amazing sport.
The MRA is run by a board of directors that includes the president, vice president and secretary as well as a treasurer and a point secretary. There are also event directors for each rodeo category and personnel appointed by the association to help run events. These include timers, judges and bull fighters as well as announcers, pickup men and clowns. Basically, the Board of Directors is involved in major decision making pertaining to the running of the association. All major decisions, news and meeting minutes are made available to all MRA stakeholders through their website, http://www.mnrodeo.org/.
Membership can be conveniently purchased online for any one of the different membership categories available. Currently the most expensive membership fee is at $165 for Canadian residents followed by $155 for regular membership. The least expensive membership is usually the high school category which they offer at discounted rates. The current rate for the membership is $15. For all memberships, an extra fee is charged for lateness and is usually in excess of $10 for each category. After purchase, a membership card is given, with which to guarantee entry into the venues. All memberships must be purchased on or before the rodeo.
The MRA Board of Directors formulates an entire schedule for all the rodeos before the onset of each season. The schedule details include the date of each rodeo, the location and the entry fees. Other details include fees to be charged for horse stalls and admittance fees for spectators. There are also various festivals held during each rodeo season such as the Minnesota Equifest whose details are also included in the rodeo schedule.
This festival usually sets the pace for the start of the rodeo season during which memberships are sold for the upcoming season. One of the developments of the MRA over the years has been the introduction of raffles as a fundraiser. Each rodeo category may also have a different way to raise funds to cater for year-end awards. This often includes adding a specified fee to the membership entry which goes into purchasing prizes to be awarded during finals.
The Minnesota Rodeo Association remains one of the highlights of the state as far as sports are concerned. The association has strived over the years to keep the rodeo sport entertaining while endeavoring to meet the needs of members and spectators alike as effectively as possible. Visitors from outside Minnesota will find plenty of accommodation needs during the rodeo season including Bed and Breakfasts, campgrounds, hotels and motels.
There are also houseboats, resorts and home rental options. Besides, the state offers numerous outdoor activities to explore during the rodeo season. The MRA can only be expected to grow to host more rodeos and have increased membership in the coming years as well as draw a bigger number of fans from around the US and beyond.
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