WASILLA — Rodeo Alaska is getting back in the saddle to kick off another season with the Memorial Weekend Rodeo Alaska Festival, holding a variety of events within the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer.

“It all came together really well,” Rodeo Alaska owner Frank Koloski said.

This year’s festival marks a historic milestone for the whole state, according to Koloski. He said one of Saturday’s featured events, “The Northernmost Xtreme Bulls” will be sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association for the first time in Alaska.

“It’s super exciting. This is a historic event for all of Alaska… This has been my lifelong dream,” Koloski said. “We have the best bull riders in the world coming.”

Forty top-ranked professional bull riders along with award winning bucking bulls will compete for the $15,000 grand prize. Koloski said that Alaskans have never had an opportunity like this before, and it’s going to be a fun and motivational event.

“We’re excited and proud to provide Alaskans with such a quality event and showcase our state to these world class athletes and their fans,” Koloski said.

The festival kicks off this Friday with the RAM Champions Tour Rodeo. Friday’s events include bull riding, barrel racing, team roping, and other events featuring Alaska’s top rodeo contestants, officially kicking off the 2021 Rodeo Alaska tour season. Gates open at 4 p.m.

Saturday is jam packed with rodeo activities, including the PRCA Northernmost Xtreme Bulls event. There will also be live performances by William Michael Morgan and the Ken Peltier Band in the evening. Gates open at 11 a.m.

Sunday is the final day of the Ram Champions Tour Rodeo Tour Rodeo. Gates open at 12 p.m.

Rodeo Alaska Junior Rodeo riders will be featured on Monday with gates opening at 2 p.m.

Golden Wheel Amusement carnival rides will be available throughout the festival with local vendors serving attendees onsite.

Koloski said they overcame many obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said they had to cancel numerous events and held scaled down events in 2020. He said this festival with this major PRCA milestone stirs up a lot of hope for the future of Rodeo Alaska.

“It was tough on all of us,” Koliski said. “I really hope this is the start of a new beginning that carries a lot of momentum.”

After the festival, Rodeo Alaska will continue the season by touring across the state, eventually finding their way back to the Palmer Fairgrounds for the bittersweet final rodeo.

“We gave a very strong following of rodeo fans out there… The final last hoorah before winter comes is generally what that means,” Koloski said.

For tickets and more information, visit rodeoalaska.com.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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