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Rodeo 4 SMThe Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety (MNOPS), a division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety that enforces the MN 216D State Statue, inspects natural gas, propane, and hazardous liquid pipelines, and investigates leaks and accidents, hosts an annual Pipeline Safety Educational Conference. At the 2018 conference at Breezy Point Resort on April 9, MNOPS reinstituted its MN Utility Locate Rodeo, inspired by the large-scale International Utility Locate Rodeo. Gopher State One Call (GSOC) was a proud sponsor of this unique event!


The MN Utility Locate Rodeo recognizes the profession of underground utility locating, a vital aspect of the damage prevention industry. Participants had the opportunity to test their craft, skills, and knowledge of utility locating in a friendly competition against their peers.

Only utility locating technicians employed by a utility, contract locating, or private company, municipality, or other local government units were eligible to compete. If participants located facilities within the confines of Breezy Point Resort within the past six months prior to the event, they were ineligible to compete. MNOPS required all competitors to wear a hard hat and high-visibility safety vest during their competition within the “locate wheel” (competition) area.

Competitors were not allowed within the locate wheel area prior to setup nor prior to competing. Penalty for breaking this rule was disqualification. A competitor could observe other competitors only after they had already competed. No communication, vocal, silent or otherwise, could be made to the competitor in the locate wheel area.

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Each competitor was given a supply of chips or flags to identify the utility’s location. The chips or flags could be moved as many times as necessary, however, there was a penalty for each movement after the initial placement. Immediately prior to their competition, each participant was directed to the designated start location and given a clipboard. Attached to the front was the competitor’s event template (scoring chart), and on the back of the clipboard was a map of the locate wheel area.

In total, there were 12 participants.  Each competitor had up to 12 minutes to perform the following:

  • View the map on the back of the clipboard.
  • Find an access point.
  • Hook up their locating equipment.
  • Locate the target utility by placing a chip or flag where they believe the utility crosses the locate wheel.
  • Restore the locate wheel area to its original condition before returning to the start location.
  • Return to the start location and tap ‘STOP’ on the timer.
  • If the above steps were not completed within 12 minutes, the result was elimination.

For the complete set of rules and regulations for the event, click here.

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Participants began with 1,000 points. Event judges deducted points based on inaccuracy or flawed performance. The top three finishers received awards and recognition.

Thank you to the MN Utility Locate Rodeo and prize sponsors who helped to make this event possible: MNOPS, Xcel Energy, CAER, One Call Concepts, CenturyLink, PSC Contracting, USIC, MP Technologies, Alliance Pipeline, Ditch Witch, Prairieland Utility Coordinating Committee, CenterPoint Energy, Michel’s, Connexus Energy, Groebner, 3M, MN Power, Dakota Electric Association, Reconn Utility Services, Q3, Flag Shooter, and Badger Daylighting.

The top finishers were:

  1. Joshua Richard with Q3 Contracting
  2. Adam Enberg with Xcel Energy
  3. Jose Martin with Xcel Energy

Overall, the 2018 MN Utility Locate Rodeo was a great opportunity for attendees to showcase their talents in the art and science of locating. Take a moment to acknowledge the locators you know and tell them how much you appreciate the difficult, challenging, and sometimes dangerous work they do to protect our underground utilities!

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