Second annual rodeo provides fundraising opportunities

Photo by Erika Schwartz
The second annual Silver Sage Rodeo was held at the Silver Sage Ranch near Clitherall from August 11-12. The rodeo provided a number of fundraising opportunities for local groups and organizations.

By Chad Koenen


Situated in the heart of more than 1,000 lakes, Clitherall may not necessarily seem like a hotbed for rodeos in rural Minnesota. However, Silver Sage Ranch in rural Clitherall hosted its second annual rodeo last weekend which included records crowds, more family-friendly activities and a chance to give back to the local community with a unique fundraising activity. 

“It’s a family-friendly outing. We are trying to incorporate as much as we possibly can for families who live in the area and who visit the area,” said Hilori Froslee, who is one of the board members who helps to organize the rodeo.

A large crowd of people turned out to the Silver Sage Ranch in rural Clitherall from August 11-12 for the second annual rodeo. The rodeo featured a wide variety of events like bareback, saddle bronc, tie-down roping, team roping, bull riding and barrel racing.

Now in its second year, the PRCA Rodeo saw record crowds at Silver Sage Ranch in rural Clitherall as area residents had the opportunity to not only see a large scale rodeo, but also raise money for local organizations. Both concepts were focal points by  Nicki and Craig Otto and Silver Sage Ranch, who are part of the family that runs the guest ranch. 

The rodeo also included mutton busting and a mechanical bull.

“Nicki and Craig (Otto) have been into rodeos for several years and they approached the fire department about possibly putting it on as a fundraiser,” said Froslee. 

Silver Sage Ranch is located just south of Clitherall and is operated by the Otto family. The property was originally purchased by the family in 1995 and over the years they have hosted patrons for overnight stays at their ranch, organized trail rides, horse camps and just an opportunity to experience life on a ranch. 

When the Otto’s started looking into hosting a large-scale rodeo they didn’t want to have one to just benefit their ranch, but to help the neighboring communities and organizations as well. 

Vining Fire Chief Adam Schwartz said the rodeo essentially kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it provide another fun, family-friendly summer activity, but it also raises money for the local fire department and organizations.

“Overall the whole rodeo concept was based on helping the community,” he said. “Everybody there was a local vendor. Everyone involved, Henning trap and wrestling boosters, the whole thing is based on supporting the community in general. It is a pretty awesome event just for that.”

The first year the Vining Fire Department and Millerville Fire Department helped with the rodeo, along with two food vendors and several local organizations. This year the Millerville Fire Department declined to help with the rodeo so the Henning Fire Department stepped in along with the Vining Fire Department. A portion of the proceeds from the rodeo will benefit the local fire departments. 

This year the rodeo also grew to six vendors, along with the Henning trap team who sponsored a mechanical bull contest on Friday night and held a 50/50 split the pot and the Otter Tail Central wrestling boosters who sold pop and water. One of the food vendors also included a Boy Scout troop from Alexandria who used the event as a fundraiser. 

“We are definitely trying to open it up to include other organizations so they can raise funds for what they need it for,” said Froslee. “Going forward we will try to include more and more as we continue to grow.”

That help includes the Vining Fire Department, who has turned the rodeo into a fundraiser for the group as it looks to upgrade its aging equipment. Proceeds from the rodeo help to offset the rising costs of purchasing things like a new truck, without having to solely rely on taxes of local property owners.

“It’s something that we are trying to raise money for trucks and equipment and everything is so expensive,” said Schwartz. “Instead of raising everyone’s taxes it is something that not only benefits the community but gives us money moving forward.”

This year’s rodeo featured everything from bareback to saddle bronc, bull riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, WPRA barrel racing, mutton busting and even a sale barn animal scramble. Froslee said the barn animal scramble featured everything from chickens to pigs who were let loose in the arena. Children who were able to catch one of the animals were able bring the animal home if they desired—and they received the green light from other family members. 

The rodeo is organized by a board of directors, which includes Craig and Nicki Otto, Adam Schwartz, Jeff Froslee, Marianne Myrum and Hilori Froslee. The third annual rodeo will be held the second weekend in August at Silver Sage Ranch near Clitherall.