If Chad Berger’s name is on it, it figures to be a pretty big deal.
That certainly is the case this weekend as the seven-time PBR Stock Contractor of the Year welcomes in 15 world-class bull riders for the $100,000 Match of Champions.
"I always try to do something special for my hometown area," the Mandan-based stock contractor said. "
Berger's elite bulls always draw a crowd of top cowboys, but Shane Proctor, the 2011 PRCA World Champion, said this one takes the cake.
"He's a promotionalist. He loves coming up with stuff nobody's ever done before and he's really good at it," Proctor said of Berger. "But what he's done with this, 15 World Champions, is extraordinary. There's never been anything like it."
The roster for the event is a who's who of past, current and future rodeo stars including four-time PRCA World Champion J.W. Harris, four-time PRCA World Champion Sage Kimzey, three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves, two-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney, 2017 PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood, 2017 IPRA World Champion Corey Bailey, 2017 CNFR Champion Cole Melancon, 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis, 2016 INFR Champion Cody Jesus, 2012 PRCA World Champion Cody Teel, 2010 PBR World Champion Renato Nunes, 2008 PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi, 2007 PRCA World Champion Wesley Silcox and 2004 PBR World Champion Mike Lee.
Luring such a star-studded lineup isn't easy, even for Berger.
"It's quite a job, kind of like rounding up chickens," he said. "I've been able to develop relationships with every one of these guys, so that helps."
So does some serious cash.
"You start waving a thousand $100 bills, a $40,000 buckle and a $10,000 saddle, most guys will travel quite a ways for that," Berger said.
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Proctor was excited to be invited to the rodeo, which will be held on Friday and Saturday at the Bismarck Events Center, beginning at 7:30 both nights.
"Regardless of what the sport is, you want the opportunity to compete against the best," said Proctor, who has rode his way to more than $1.2 million in career earnings. "I've always had high expectations for myself. There are good times and bad times and times where you question yourself and times where you're tested mentally and physically.
"But as a competitive person, the opportunity to measure yourself against the best is something I really embrace and look forward to."
Proctor, the son of two school teachers and a native of Coulee Wash., is in the process of moving from North Carolina to Oklahoma. Like most top cowboys, he's competed virtually all over North America -- 48 of the 50 states in fact -- but is still looking for success up north.
"I haven't done well in North Dakota," he said. "I've done well in South Dakota and Montana, but haven't had any luck in North Dakota. Maybe my luck is about to change."
Like all veteran bull riders, Proctor has taken a beating physically with broken bones, surgeries and concussions aplenty. He knows with Berger's brand of beast, it won't get any easier in Bismarck.
"You know you're going to get the best bulls and the crowds in Bismarck are always great," Proctor said. "They do a really good job with everything. It's always fun up there."
Berger is bringing his best, rest assured. The Prime A-1 beef is back on the plains after wintering in Oklahoma.
"They're snow-bulls," the quick-witted Berger said.
"Only the good ones come to Bismarck," said Berger, who receives scores of videos of bulls each year to see if any catch his eye. "We have to make these guys earn it, you know."
A show like this one could make significantly more money if it were held in Las Vegas, Dallas or some other metropolitan area, but Berger wants to bring something big to Bismarck.
"I feel like if I put my name on it I want it to be good," he said. "We're excited about this one. We went all out trying to do something big."
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org