Special Achievement

North Dakota Prison Rodeo
2023 Nominee


Four inmates met with Warden Robert Landon in 1973 and requested that the prison conduct a rodeo for inmates. Warden Landon approved the request and informed Deputy Warden Satran that he would organize and manage the rodeo. The first rodeo was held within the prison walls in May of 1974. A meager crowd of 1500 spectators witnessed the beginning of all inmate contestant rodeo that would last for the next 13 years.

Inmates participated in the traditional rodeo events, bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, calf roping and bull riding. The rodeo began to add thrilling contests, Mad Scramble, six bulls with six riders all turned out at once, Hard Money, a fighting bull with a ribbon tied between his horns with 25 to 30 inmates attempting to remove the ribbon, and the final challenge, the Wild Horse Race.

The excitement of the rodeo drew 7000 fans as the popularity of the rodeo spread across the state. Inmates who had never entered a rodeo thrilled fans with their daring and physical abilities. For most of the spectators they had never been within the walls of a penitentiary, and they gained a new perspective of those who were convicted of offenses against society.

Word spread about this wild west show conducted within a prison and attracted the interest of regional, national, and international news organizations. In 1985 a major French magazine produced a five-page article on the rodeo. It caught the attention of 40 other European news sources and was published across Europe. This prompted a movie production company to film the following year’s rodeo and the movie played though out Europe and the United States. This major accomplishment ended this exciting and wild event that thrilled fans and inmates alike.

The rodeo ended in 1988 due to aging bleachers, medical coverage expenses, and a change in activities at the prison.