Small Town Rodeo

I love our local rodeo. The contestants are for the most part local folk, so the cheering sections are loud once the rodeo begins, but it starts off quietly with cowboys getting their equipment ready and mentally preparing for their events.

Prepping the rein prior to a bronc ride.

The stock is quiet. The contestants are quiet.

The ambulance gets into position. Thankfully, there wasn’t any call for an ambulance trip during this rodeo.

The rodeo opens with a performance from the drill team that my mom coaches. She rode as part of the team until she was 76 and it’s still a big part of her life.

Things start getting busier behind the chutes. The guy with his feet in the air is saddling a bronc. The cowboys handle their own broncs prior to riding, sometimes with the help of a friend.

When the action begins, everyone is very excited. This is why they came, after all.

Not all rides go well.

Darkness falls and the lights come on.

After the official rodeo ends, there’s an event called wild cow milking, and it’s exactly whaat it sounds like. Teams of cowboys rope and milk a wild cow. After the cowboy gets a small amount of milk in the bottle (enough to drink) they race to the finish line.

And that’s the end of the small town rodeo for this year. I love my big rodeos, particularly the Reno Rodeo, but this one allows the fans to enjoy all the action behind the scenes.

And that’s the end of this small town Montana rodeo until next year. I hope you enjoyed the photos.

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Jeannie Watt raises cattle in Montana and loves all things western. When she's not writing, Jeannie enjoys sewing, making mosaic mirrors, riding her horses and buying hay. Lots and lots of hay.

30 thoughts on “Small Town Rodeo”

  1. I love small town rodeos too. It is so much more intimate. But the big rodeos have their draw too. Thanks for sharing. I know a lot of people don’t understand what goes on behind the chutes, like those of us who grew up in the rodeo world. So thanks for giving others a taste of our lifestyle.

    • Tonya, one reason I love this rodeo so much is that I can photograph behind the chutes without interfering with the contestant’s prep work–both physical and mental. It’s a treat.

  2. It’s nice that not all rodeos are the big PBR events. I know they have a small one at the county fair, and I remember a smallish one at Cowtown in South Jersey.

  3. It has been so many years since I’ve been to a rodeo! They were a huge draw for NebraskaLand Days when I lived in western Nebraska, so I especially enjoyed your play-by-play. The video really captures the fun and excitement of those cowboys trying to milk a cow. 🙂

    Fun blog, Jeannie!

    • I, too, have always wanted to go to the Calgary Stampede. My mom and aunt drove to Calgary in the late 1950’s to go to the stampede and arrived on the wrong weekend, so…no stampede for them. 🙂

  4. Welcome and thanks for sharing today. I loved that video. I had not heard of this before. Growing up on the farm we had a rodeo every August. It was a highlight of our area also. I was in the barrel racing. Iloved to feel the wind through my face and hair. One of my three brothers wanted to do the bronc riding. Fortunately my mom knew the men riding and made sure this didnt happen. John would have snuck in and done it.

  5. Jeannie, Thanks so much for sharing. Yes, the big time rodeos are showy productions and exciting. There is, however, something satisfying about a small, local event. You are not there just for the show. You have a personal connection to the contestants and their families in the stands. For the most part the stock isn’t as “high velocity” as the professional suppliers bring to national competitions, but being thrown or stepped on still hurts. It is a community coming together for (mostly) friendly competition and a good time.
    I am so impressed that your mother participated in the drill team until she was 76. I understand her staying active with it. It keeps her young . When you enjoy something, you stay active as long as you can, any way you can. It shows how much a part of the community the drill team and the rodeo are.
    I have been to the big production rodeos, but never lived in a community that had a local rodeo. The closest we came was our first rodeo. We had moved to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Rodeo was it. We went to the Little Britches Rodeo the day before the main rodeo. It was local children participating, our children were able to join a couple of the events, and we had a great time. A really nice introduction to the West for these Yankees. I did notice last time we were “home” in Northern NY that there is now a rodeo facility just down the road from my family’s old home. I am going to have to check on what events they have and when they are held. It would be interesting to see what it is like so far from where the events reflect a local way of life.

  6. Jeannie, thanks for sharing the photos from behind the chutes. I have never been behind the chutes when a rodeo was happening but my husband, when he was young, was one of those friends who helped his buddies get ready for a ride. We are fortunate to have PRCA rodeos near us and small town rodeos as well. Actually the closest PRCA rodeos have world champion competitors but they still have a lot of the small rodeo atmosphere since they are in small towns. Wild cow milking contests are so much fun to watch especially when you know the people on the teams.

  7. Loved seeing your photos, Jeannie! Small-town rodeos are such fun – and wild cow milking is usually hilarious to watch! So neat about your mom being involved with the drill team. So, so fun!

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