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North Star Gay Rodeo Association
First posted Apr 2, 2015
Last update Jan-20-2020

Association Histories

Obtained from the NSGRA website, April 2, 2015


The North Star Gay Rodeo Association was founded by five Rodeo enthusiasts in October of 1989. Frank Bohlander, Jim Chalgren, Bob Jansen, Don Olson and John Ritter bring Gay Rodeo to the Upper Midwest.

Organizational Meetings were held in Nov. and Dec. of 1989 to complete the election of officers. (including the founding Pres., Frank Bohlander) and filing incorporation with the state of MN.


By mid-january, 1990, NSGRA was officially recognized by the International gay rodeo association as a member association. NSGRA participated in its first parade of states that very weekend in the "Road Runner regional rodeo".

Membership grew quickly from 5 - 75 in less than one year. The first "annual" meeting was held in september of 1990.


The addition of borderline, a country western line dance troupe was formed in March, 1991 requiring its members to belong to the association, the dancers became community wide ambassadors and entertainers.

To enhance education about the "rodeo" aspect of IGRA, NSGRA attempted to produce a unit rodeo (a scaled down version of the larger event). The event was never realized as NSGRA lost necessary support from its co-host.

Focus quickly changed to a marketing campaign in an attempt to secure the 1992 IGRA annual convention for the Twin cities. Buoyed by a light-hearted video capitalizing on local claim-to-fame, Mary Tyler Moore, "You're gonna make it after all", the IGRA delegates overwhelmingly voted on the first ballot to award the 1992 annual convention to NSGRA.

Membership had topped 100.


The new rodeo season saw a marked increase in participation by NSGRA members. Participation in all aspects of rodeo was seen as an important part of the preparation for hosting a full-fledged rodeo in the upper midwest.

August brought 75 delegates and numerous others to the Twin cities for the 1992 IGRA annual convention. At the convention, NSGRA was granted the use of June 18-20 1993, dates to host the first ever "North star regional rodeo".


In the new year, leadership on the entertainment/fund-raising committee spurred a drive toward reaching the rodeo's $40,000 budget requirements. Part of their focus was also put toward NSGRA's support of other local non-profit organizations.

Recognition for marketing and advertising reached a new high as NSGRA worked for more national exposure. this included strategic placement of national advertising as well as staging visits to upper mid-west nightclubs.

For the first time ever, the local pride committee asked to have a representative of NSGRA included at meetings on a regular basis. officially sanctioned by the pride committee, this rodeo is the first major event of the 1993 family of pride celebration in the twin cities.

Outside the rodeo itself, the Borderline dance troupe has been officially recognized in the association's bylaws. Borderline members have also completed a professionally produced pair of line dance/partner dance video tapes that were distributed as far away as Japan.


After the 2nd annual North star regional rodeo, NSGRA decides to reorganize the rodeo weekend as a tri-event called the "Great northern shindig". this includes the "step-that-step dance invitational, the community corral carnival and North star regional rodeo. The evening dances have been expanded to include both a dance room and a cabaret, where local talents can sing or lip sync to their favorite tunes.


The great northern shindig featuring the 3rd annual North star regional rodeo is held.

NSGRA strengthens its community ties with other organizations. the Imperial court of the ice castle shares our NSGRA dance tent at pride and co-sponsors the "salute to cowboys" which helps raise funds for the rodeo.

A bylaw change makes our ambassadors now "royalty", and adds a miss category to this fundraising group.


The Great northern shindig continues featuring the 4th annual North star regional rodeo.


The Great northern shindig features the 5th annual north star regional rodeo.

Recognizing the importance of our contestants, NSGRA adds a new chair (contestant chair) to our board of directors. NSGRA enters the age of the internet by having a web site. Unfortunately, this year's shindig ends in debt.


The Great northern shindig features the 6th annual North star regional rodeo.

Fundraising becomes better organized and a sponsorship program is initiated. Despite this, NSGRA posts a significant debt because it had to pay off the previous years debts and our Miata car raffle went bust due to St. Paul pride having a Miata car raffle at the same time. The NSGRA board decides not to host another rodeo until we are debt free. This debt paralyzes NSGRA for the next several years.

1999 - 2000

NSGRA continues to field contestants at IGRA sanctioned rodeos.


NSGRA reaches a low point in the summer when the membership discusses disbanding at the annual meeting if progress isn't made at increasing visibility. NSGRA starts to improve its web site, holds its first barn dance that benefits the victims of 9-11, 4 of the 11 NSGRA contestants that competed in 2001 are invited to NSGRA finals rodeo. Mark Larson (Mr. NSGRA 2001) becomes Mr. IGRA 2002. with this progress NSGRA elects a new slate for the board of directors with renewed optimism.


NSGRA starts sending out newsletters again. Membership activities grow to include two barn dances, co-hosting the boots and boxers dance, trail rides and more. thanks to the tireless work of Garth G., NSGRA retires our 1998 debt in time for NSGRA to ask for IGRA sanction for a 2003 North star regional rodeo.


NSGRA hosts its first IGRA sanctioned rodeo in 5 years. The rodeo is a Twin cities pride endorsed event. Dead broke arena in Hugo, MN becomes the new home for our rodeo. We raised $2,676.85 each for our two rodeo charities-Susan G Komen Foundation and the Aliveness Project.


The rodeo is a Twin cities pride endorsed event. NSGRA adds shade to the stands. The 2004 North Star Regional Rodeo charities are the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital , and the Aliveness Project. We raise over $12,000 total for charity from our rodeo.


NSGRA has a record 12 riders on horseback at the Twin Cities Pride parade! The 2005 North Star Regional Rodeo charities are the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, District, and the Aliveness Project. The rodeo is a Twin Cities Pride Endorsed Event. NSGRA adds more shade to the stand. Bob Jansen of the Main Club is selected as Grand Marshal.


The 2006 North Star Regional Rodeo benefits three HIV/AIDS charities: the Aliveness Project, Rural Action AIDS Network and the Red Ribbon Ride, and District 202, a GLBT youth center. This marks our first rodeo as a Twin Cities Pride Partnered event. The rodeo is a success despite a drop in sponsorship participation and several board vacancies. Hero Unit films our rodeo for the cable network LOGO.


Our rodeo is Pride Partnered. The 2007 rodeo charities are Camp Heartland and the Aliveness Project. The greatest success of the year belongs to Boomer for doing the paperwork and getting NSGRA 501(c)3 status! NSGRA continues to build a strong relationship with Twin Cities Pride. This year we field 14 riders on horseback, 3 rodeo clowns, a pick up truck, "pooper scooper" with cart and a member leading a miniature horse to the delight of children at the Pride Parade.


We host a Dance Tent at Twin Cities for the first time in partnership with TC Pride. The 2008 rodeo charities are Camp Heartland and the Aliveness Project. We have a good rodeo, but we also suffer from a financial loss, continued loss of sponsorship and the membership decides to take 2009 off from hosting a rodeo.


Despite not hosting a rodeo, we make a concerted effort to build a closer relationship with the dance community through our dance tent at Twin Cities Pride Festival. We bring in Scott G from San Diego to provide complimentary dance lessons throughout the day. Our royalty team is Miss Gosh Alice Jones and Nick.


At the annual meeting in September of 2009, we elect a board that sets goals for the organization and begins the process of seriously planning for a return to rodeo hosting in 2011. Our newsletter gets a new look along with a new editor in October as "Black Bart" finally has a replacement after many years of tending to "Write in the Saddle". We celebrate our 20th anniversary in a big way in February at a free dance at the uptown VFW.


Due to a shaky economy, the membership decides to postpone our return to hosting rodeos until sponsorships and community support return. We are taking concrete steps in this direction by building our membership base, inaugurating the North Star Saddle Club and more!


NSGRA has focused on developing social media, fostering ties with other LGBT groups, and preserving dance opportunities for the twin Cities area.


2013 saw a return of royalty with Miss Billy LaTease Austin. Membership events included monthly beer busts at the Saloon, MN horse Expo, Pride dance tent, and more.


In an effort to focus on rodeo, the Saddle Club is disbanded, and membership votes to have a rodeo in 2015. Dan Van Wyk is elected president for a third term with a nearly full board with a mandate to make the rodeo happen and a budget of $60,000. The Saloon is a major sponsor and hosts most of our events.

Association Histories