Big Sky PBR again honored by world’s best bull riders
By Tyler Allen EBS Senior Editor
LAS VEGAS – The entertainers behind the Big Sky Pro Bull Riders event again finished their season under the bright lights of the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”
On Oct. 26, the Big Sky PBR was honored as Event of the Year for the third consecutive year at Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Center during the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals. And this year it was no easy feat.
Big Sky’s event was competing against the J.W. Hart Invitational in Decatur, Texas, that hosted a competition called “Unfinished Business.” Eight former riders from the past three decades came out of retirement to compete for a $160,000 purse on pay-per-view. But it wasn’t enough to unseat Big Sky’s main summer attraction.
“It’s really something special to beat out this event, it was really tough competition,” said Freestone Productions’ Jacey Watson, who produces the Big Sky PBR with her husband Andy, The Outlaw Partners, and Continental Construction. “It’s a hard thing to pull off every year and the community of Big Sky becomes a big part of that.”
In addition to the J.W. Hart Invitational, Big Sky’s signature summer party was up against approximately 150 other PBR-sanctioned events that include the Touring Pro Division and BlueDEF Velocity Tour stops – the Big Sky PBR was elevated to the BlueDEF series in this year’s inaugural season.
Thirty-five of the world’s best riders, many of whom competed in Big Sky on July 30 and 31, vote for the annual Event of the Year.
Sean Gleason, minted as PBR’s new CEO in June, says this award is an opportunity to honor the high production value of the PBR events outside the Built Ford Tough Series.
“[Event of the Year] is to acknowledge all the independent promoters that put in a lot of hard work into events that we can be proud of,” said Gleason, who attended the Big Sky PBR in 2014.
“I thought it was a phenomenal event – well run [and] well produced,” Gleason said. “And in that setting, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I think the riders see a lot of people in the stands and enjoy the community.”
The 2015 Big Sky PBR was Outlaw’s Media and Events Director Ersin Ozer second, but his first opportunity to accept the award in Vegas with Outlaw CEO Eric Ladd.
“It’s such a huge honor, and it’s not one that I take lightly,” said Ozer, adding that he often strolls through Big Sky Town Center arena to exercise his dog Sadie. “When you walk through that empty venue right now, you’d have no idea that three months ago an epic party went down, and one that’s proved to be a memorable experience for cowboys all around the world.”
Ozer was impressed with the BFTS Las Vegas event and took some notes for next year’s Big Sky PBR.
“It was really cool to observe how they put on such a huge production on the Built Ford Tough level,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that they do well, that we also do … [like] raising money for charities, and how they incorporate sponsors into the event – it’s very interactive.”
Lone Mountain Ranch was one of the many sponsors involved in the 2015 Big Sky PBR, as the stock sponsor and host of the Golden Buckle VIP tent on July 30.
“It matched all of our expectations and then some,” said LMR General Manager Paul Roberston. “The highlight for us was hosting the community in the Golden Buckle tent, sharing our menu, pouring our drinks, and socializing with the whole town. It’s very rewarding, and the PBR makes it all possible.”
While the producers of the Big Sky PBR are happy about its success on the national stage, they won’t be resting on their laurels in 2016.
“This year we have big plans in store for the cowboys who come out to compete,” Ozer said. “Our goal is to take care of them and their families and develop it into an event that is talked about among the athletes throughout the season.”
Gleason said he hopes to come to Big Sky next year after taking 2015 off, and he sees growth in the event’s future.
“I think that PBR recognizes how special that event is,” Gleason said. “We’re looking at some options to work with the promoters to grow the event and increase it’s prominence in the PBR schedule.”
Tickets go on sale for the 2016 Big Sky PBR in June 2016, and will be available at bigskypbr.com.