Written by Devon Boen
This year, the 90th annual Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede will honor military veterans. A Patriot Night is planned for Friday, July 12, and two World War II veterans who were aboard this year’s honor flight to Washington, D.C., Bernerd Wanderaas and Eddie Olsen, will serve as the event’s grand marshals.
Wanderaas and Olsen were born and raised in Vida and graduated from Wolf Point High School.
Wanderaas, who will be 90 years old next year, served in the U.S. Navy for two years, starting on D-Day in 1944. He served in active duty off the coast of the Aleutian Islands.
After his stint in the U.S. Navy, he took over his parents’ farm in 1948 and has been farming ever since.
Olsen, who is Wanderaas’ lifelong neighbor and best friend, joined the Army Infantry in 1944. He said he moved around often during his time in the military, travelling to France and Germany, among other countries.
Olsen said he came down with the flu during the war and, with great luck, missed the Battle of the Bulge. He finished his time in the military in 1946 and, like Wanderaas, has been farming ever since.
The two veterans, who will serve as focal points at this year’s Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede celebration, recalled fond memories of attending the event while growing up.
Wanderaas said he came every year before the war and every year after.
Olsen said he started attending the Wild Horse Stampede in the 1930s and he could remember riding to the fairgrounds in a Ford Model T.
Like many other luxuries and events, the Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede was canceled from 1943 through 1945 since too many civic leaders were serving in the war.
The festivities resumed in 1946 with a huge celebration.
Wanderaas has been a longtime attendee of the regionally famous event, but was genuinely surprised when he was chosen as one of this year’s grand marshals.
“It’s the last thing I thought I would ever be doing. Some of [the previous grand marshals] did give some good speeches and cracked a lot of jokes.”
Wanderaas said he didn’t think he would be giving any speeches, but noted that he would be cheering on the competitors.
“When the ropers or barrel racers do exceptionally well, I’ll be sure to give them a good applause anyway,” he said.
Wanderaas might have some reservations about being in the spotlight, but said he felt good knowing his best friend would share the responsibility.
“I can’t think of anybody in the area I’d rather be a partner with to be the grand marshal,” Wanderaas said.
Olsen was similarly thankful to be sharing the title. The two veterans have been through a multitude of life events together and mark another off the list as they represent all veterans and their sacrifices during Wolf Point’s historic Wild Horse Stampede.