By Doug Hare EBS Staff

On the third night of the PBR World Finals at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, members from Outlaw Partners, along with Andy and Jacey Watson of Freestone Productions, accepted the “Event of the Year” award for Big Sky PBR.

This marks the sixth year in a row that Outlaw, the Big Sky-based marketing, media and events agency, and the Watsons were honored with the award—along with third producer Continental Construction—chosen by the bull riders over more than 300 events nationwide.

“There are two factors that set Big Sky PBR apart: the outdoor, intimate setting under the shadow of Lone Peak, and the hardworking cowboys who have made it a tradition to come and ride in Big Sky year after year,” said Ersin Ozer, Outlaw Partners’ media and events director. “These guys are living from one head-nod to the next, and it means the world to them to show up to an event and be fed dinner, and see the support of the community that rallied behind them, and wants to see them succeed.”

For the first time last summer, Big Sky PBR was extended to include a third night of bull riding, after tickets for the two-night event sold out in under 10 minutes. An analysis by Rob Gilmore of Circle Analytics estimated the economic impact on the community of ‘Big Sky’s Biggest Week’ at $3.4 million. That estimate includes $1.1 million in spin-off benefits as the dollars circulate throughout the local economy, and approximately $2 million of which is retained within Gallatin County.

“Those who vote—the top 40 PBR bull riders in the world—are my friends, colleagues, and ‘on the road’ family. To have their stamp of approval is very gratifying,” Andy Watson said. “I have no doubt what makes this event so special to them. It’s the Big Sky community and their energy behind the cowboys that ignite the venue into a special space in time, as well as the crew and the heart and soul they pour into the event to make it happen.”

Andy and Jacey Watson also produce the Livingston PBR and their business Bull Stock Media is the official photographer for PBR.

“Big Sky PBR is one-of-a-kind. It’s a unicorn. It’s lightning in a bottle,” Andy said. “As soon as you have the chance to experience it, you understand it’s significance. That is why we keep winning.”

This summer, Outlaw Partners will bring three more nights of bull riding back to Big Sky from July 24-27 and will also soon release dates for a two-night summer PBR event in Jackson, Wyoming, after last summer’s inaugural success.

On a river trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Eric Ladd and six women with ties to the Yellowstone Club hatched a plan to form an LLC and buy a bull from legendary cowboy Cord McCoy. That bull, 51 Viper, recently won the Wild Card round at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, garnering a reputation as a bull-to-watch on the PBR circuit.

In September, Outlaw Partners and six women from the Yellowstone Club formed Big Sky Bulls, LLC, and bought a bull named 51 Viper from bull-rider-turned-stock-contractor Cord McCoy, who will manage the 3-year-old’s career from his Oklahoma ranch. At the world finals in Las Vegas, 51 Viper put his bucking skills on full display, impressing judges and winning the Wild Card round.

“I knew a little bit about bull riding from going to Big Sky PBR every year, but after buying a bull I know a lot more,” said Melissa McKeithen, one of Viper’s co-owners. “Cord [McCoy] knows about everything there is to know, and he treats his animals so well. This upcoming year for Viper is really when bucking bulls are entering their prime.”

McCoy said that he’s excited to be involved with a bull that has its roots in Big Sky, where he comes every summer to help emcee the annual bull riding festival.

“Big Sky PBR is an event that the best riders in the world put on their schedule and plan for it,” said McCoy, who retired from bull riding in 2013 after a decorated career. “[It’s] so cool how Big Sky sets the scene and the magic happens year after year!”

Visit bigskypbr.com for more information and to see media coverage of past events.