Six Pack rodeo members to be recognized at NFR

Some of the best rodeo talent North Dakota ever produced -- along with the rodeo they helped found -- will be honored in December during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.


Some of the best rodeo talent North Dakota ever produced -- along with the rodeo they helped found -- will be honored in December during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

It will be a step back in time to what Kevin Holten, executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Association, calls the “golden age” and a “romantic era” for rodeo on Dec. 11, when Alvin Nelson, the group of cowboys known as the North Dakota Six Pack and the Champions Ride Rodeo are honored during the PRCA’s Gold Card Reunion.

Holten said each of the three awards are linked to a time when a group of “phenomenal” cowboys from North Dakota were competing against one another, challenging each other and sweeping competitions across the country. Those cowboys included Jim and Tom Tescher, Alvin Nelson, Duane Howard, Joe Chase, and Dean Armstrong.

“They were competing all over the country, doing superbly and beating each other,” Holten said. “Nobody could beat them better than themselves.”

He said they put North Dakota on the map as one of the best areas for rodeo in the country, and the state has kept that reputation.


“For quite a few years, it was those North Dakota cowboys against the world,” said Gary Tescher, son of Jim.

He said despite the competitive rivalry, there was “a pretty tight bond amongst them.”

“They were competitive -- obviously they were trying to win first -- but they were just as happy when the others won,” Gary Tescher said. “They helped the other guys as much as they could.”

The crew rose to fame individually, but also as a group.

Fueling the recognition was Alvin Nelson, who became North Dakota’s first world champion in 1957. Kay Nelson, Alvin’s widow, said “it was a really exciting time.”

“It was fun to see Alvin succeeding at his dream, he’s always wanted to be a successful rodeo cowboy,” she said.

And even after all of those years, Alvin and the rest of Six Pack’s legacy lives on.

This is partially due to the Six Pack’s creation of the Champions Ride Saddle Bronc Match, which is held annually at Home on the Range, a home for underprivileged youth near Sentinel Butte, and has drawn top saddle bronc riders since 1957.


“They set it up the match and as a fundraiser for Home on the Range,” Holten said.

The champions match has been a recurring event for nearly six decades.

Both Champions Ride and North Dakota Six Pack will be honored in Alvin’s name and presented to Kay Nelson at the Gold Member Luncheon.

“It’s a very prestigious national award,” Holten said. “It recognizes North Dakota as one of the top producers of rodeo talent in the nation. It’s honoring the best of the best.”

Though a significant amount of time has passed, Holten said, these riders live on.

“Well, everyone models themselves after the current champion and that champion models himself after the one before,” Holten said. “It kind of ties into the past.”

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
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