By Tyler Allen
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
BIG SKY – Summers in Montana are hard to beat. Perhaps it’s the cold, lengthy winters that make the long, hot days so rewarding, or maybe it’s the myriad activities like fishing, floating, hiking and biking, that make the Treasure State’s dog days so great.
Summers are also when Montana’s Western culture really shines, as rodeos, county fairs and bucking horse sales pepper the calendar. This summer one of Montana’s premier events returns for its fourth year in Big Sky, July 30 – 31.
Tickets go on sale for the fourth annual Big Sky Pro Bull Riders event on June 9, attracting some of the toughest cowboys in the country. And for the second year running, the Big Sky PBR will feature two nights of bull riding in Town Center arena.
Forty elite bull riders and 80-90 world-class bulls will square off in the scenic Meadow area, with riders vying for a $40,000 added purse and the champion taking home $20,000-$25,000. The top four places in each of the three rounds will pay out.
Round one will be held July 30, with round two and the championship round on July 31. The aggregate score from the first two rounds will determine the 10 riders competing in the championship, on 10 of the toughest bulls. As always, Chad Berger will bring his bulls from Mandan, N.D., challenging the riders every time the chute gates crash open.
On July 30, fans will be treated to a bonus Bounty Bull ride, as the top scoring rider of the evening has a chance to square off against a hand-picked bull. If he rides for eight seconds, he’ll win $2,000 plus half the proceeds from a 50/50 raffle, with the other half going to the winning ticket holder. If he gets bucked, all that money will be donated to a charitable cause. The top-scoring rider on July 31 will walk with an extra $2,000 in cash, sponsored by Lone Pine Builders.
A perennial fan favorite, mutton bustin’, will return this year, its brave, pint-sized riders gripping the backs of sheep as they bound across the arena.
Free concerts will be held outside the arena both nights after the bulls’ hooves quit pounding, with 10-piece Pink Floyd tribute band Pinky and the Floyd playing July 30 and country rock band Bottom of the Barrel performing July 31.
The Golden Buckle VIP tent will again feature Calcutta auctions at 5:30 p.m. before the action gets underway, bringing in cash for area nonprofits. The 40 riders will be split into eight teams of five, with each team auctioned off to the highest bidder. All the money will be pooled and the top scoring team will pay out 70 percent, the second team 20 percent and third team 10 percent. That money is split in half between the winning bidders and this year’s receiving nonprofits, Big Sky Community Corp. and Yellowstone Park Foundation.
This year’s presenting sponsors are the Yellowstone Club, Big Sky Resort, Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Moonlight Basin. Tickets will be available online at explorebigsky.com/pbr and at the Outlaw Partners office in Big Sky Town Center.