The Ravalli County Rockin’ RC Rodeo, the Darby Rodeo Association and Red Eye Rodeo have teamed up to bring you this series, which began on July 8 in Darby and will culminate in the finals on September 17 in Darby.
According to Rod Freeman, chair of the Rockin’ RC Rodeo committee, this is the first time that the Darby and Hamilton rodeo organizers have collaborated. “We joined forces with the stock contractor Red Eye Rodeo with the objective of increasing the number of rough stock riders in Montana,” said Freeman. Rough stock is bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding. Rough stock events are what they sound like, “rough.”
“There’s an element of danger, it requires extreme athleticism and confidence to compete successfully,” said Freeman. “Over the years we’ve seen a reduction of competitors in those events. We’re trying to promote the sport of rodeo and bring events to the Bitterroot Valley.” Himself a former rodeo cowboy, Freeman said that gradually he’s seen a reduction of the agrarian society which is the primary source of a lot of these cowboys. “There are so many other things available for people to do, there’s a lot of competition.”
Working together to promote these events is a win/win for everyone involved, said Freeman. Adding the women’s barrel racing event also makes sense, as barrel racing continues to gain in popularity. Freeman says the qualifier for the barrel racing will be on Friday night, July 29, and there could be as many as 200 competitors. (Interested racers can contact Brittney, 208-993-0641).
Freeman said that Cal Ruark, with the Darby Rodeo Association, has done an excellent job of promoting the sport of rodeo and expanding the number of events and facilities in Darby. “We’ve been working separately to do the same thing in Hamilton,” said Freeman. “We decided we don’t need to be competing against each other, we need to be working together on behalf of the community.”
The series began in Darby on July 8 and 9 at the Twisted Nut Rodeo, continued in Deer Lodge on July 15 and will next be at Hamilton on Saturday, July 30 at the fairgrounds at 7 p.m. Freeman said they have been contacted by a German documentary film company that has requested permission to film for “My Family in America.” County commissioners gave permission for that and the company will be filming.
The next event in the series will be on September 1 at the Ravalli County Fair.
Freeman said that, because this is a series and they are trying to promote the sports, they’ve added $8000 to each of these events as prize money. In September, the high point winner of the entire series gets a new ATV. The high point winner in each event (four) gets a rifle.
Prize money comes from ticket sales and sponsors. Freeman said they’ve had a good response from sponsors, but they are always looking for more. Contact Rod Freeman if interested, 406-369-0320.
Tickets to the July 30th rodeo are $25. Children 10 years and under are free. Advance tickets are available at Murdoch’s in Hamilton and Missoula, Darby Wine & Liquor, and at the Fairgrounds office in Hamilton.