BEMIDJI — The 2020 Gold Mine Ranch Triple B Rodeo, scheduled for Aug. 14-15 at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds, will now be a private, sponsors-only event.

The decision was made due to Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order restricting the size of public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the rodeo announced in a Facebook post on Sunday, Aug. 2.

In June, the Beltrami County Fair was canceled due to the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, it was acknowledged that the rodeo would still tentatively continue, as organizers were in the process of working on a preparedness plan to ensure a safe experience for the community.

But in a Facebook announcement Monday, Aug. 3, Kris Klasen, an organizer of the rodeo, said they were advised to make the event a “private rodeo” after consulting with officials.

“Our Bemidji rodeo is still on because we are working closely with the recently retired Beltrami County Emergency Management director ... along with many others entities, including our county commissioner and the county COVID-19 team,” Klasen said in the announcement. “Upon their advice, this is a ‘private rodeo.’ These plans and preparations have been in the works since early June when we decided to move forward.”

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Klasen said organizers “felt there needed to be something for competitors” this year, which influenced their decision to still hold the rodeo.

The announcement comes after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a civil complaint against organizers of the North Star Stampede for allegedly violating Walz’s executive order, which limits attendance at public events during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the complaint, North Star Stampede organizers allowed large crowds to attend the July 24-26 event in Effie, Minn., without taking required safety precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported Friday, July 31, that at least one person who attended North Star Stampede had tested positive for COVID-19 and was infectious at the time they attended. State health officials are now urging rodeo attendees to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and to take precautions to limit its spread.

“This is not how we anticipated this rodeo happening. Do we agree with the mandates? Absolutely not. But with respect to Triple B, our sponsors and even ourselves, we do not want to open ourselves, Triple B or any of our wonderful sponsors to negative or legal action,” Klasen said in the announcement.

“Will we lose money this year? Absolutely, just as most businesses have. However, we are fortunate to have great sponsors that are supporting us moving forward even with no fans, except the sponsors, in the grandstand.”