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Big Sky PBR voted ‘Event of the Year’ for ninth time 

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The Big Sky PBR is held in a unique venue and filled with enthusiastic fans. PHOTO BY TOM ATTWATER

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

Big Sky’s stop on the Professional Bull Riders circuit continues to live up to the hype.  

At the PBR World Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, the Big Sky PBR was recognized as “Event of the Year,” which has begun to feel routine around here—it’s the ninth time Big Sky has earned that honor in just 11 years. The award was presented at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth by PBR CEO Sean Gleason.  

“The core of the PBR is events of course, and we are so proud for the ninth time that the PBR Event of the Year goes to: Big Sky,” Gleason announced on center stage at the packed arena.  

The Big Sky PBR is produced by Outlaw Partners, publisher of Explore Big Sky. The event will return to Big Sky for the 12th time in late July 2023. 

Outlaw Partners and Freestone Productions were honored for the Big Sky PBR in Texas. OUTLAW PARTNERS PHOTO

Ennion Williams, Outlaw Partners’ vice president of events, said Big Sky PBR’s success comes from “the big three: Fans, bulls and riders.” 

“It’s the combination of fan excitement along with the quality of the riders and bulls that creates a magical experience found at no other event,” Williams said.

Jacey and Andy Watson own Freestone Productions, a bull riding production company that works with Outlaw to put bulls in the arena. They remember bringing the idea to Eric Ladd, chairman of Outlaw Partners, more than a decade ago.  

“Mutton Bustin'” has become a favorite community tradition at the Big Sky PBR. PHOTO BY JULIA BARTON

Jacey said in terms of PBR’s community impact, the event represents a step back in time and a venue to share Western heritage, with what has evolved into a mainstay sport. 

“Having the ability to bring that to Big Sky and have it welcomed into Big Sky with the enthusiasm and energy that the community puts behind it is pretty special. You don’t see that all the time,” Jacey said.  

Andy added, “The crew steps up every year—our crew, Outlaw’s crew, all the business sponsors… they step up year after year after year.” 

Jacey called the event’s reign “astounding.” 

“For Big Sky to sustain this title as long as it has, I think is pretty incredible. And it has all the pieces to continue to perform,” she said.  

A big week for community and business 

EBS spoke with Twist Thompson, owner of Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge. Blue Buddha became a sponsor for PBR last year, he said.  

He said the event provides a huge boom to local businesses, and that his restaurant is extremely busy that whole week.  

“I think the biggest real benefit of that event is the community portion,” he added. “It’s just such an amazing thing that exists here that is built by locals.” 

Thompson gave praise to Ladd for being a leader and personable member of the community.  

“I’m so happy he’s made this event for this town,” he said.  

Ladd speaks at the 2022 PBR. PHOTO BY TOM ATTWATER

Stephanie Alexander, owner of Caliber Coffee, said their business made its rents in three days. 

“Businesses really appreciate it,” she said. “We triple our numbers when PBR is in town. I guess from a business standpoint, we appreciate it. And I’m sure other businesses feel the same way.”  

Matt Kidd, managing director of CrossHarbor Capital Partners and Lone Mountain Land Company, a primary event sponsor, wrote a statement to EBS: 

“Lone Mountain Land Company would like to offer a huge congratulations to Eric and the Outlaw Partners team for the recognition that Big Sky PBR is the event of the year once again.  The PBR has become a tradition that not only brings our community together but also draws visitors from all over to experience the excitement and charm of Big Sky in the summer.  We are proud to be a key contributor to the success of this event and its positive impact on our community’s economy and spirit.  We are also pleased to be able to help bring the event back this summer — it’s going to be another great event!” 

James Murphy, CEO and co-founder of Drink LMNT, also provided a written statement. Drink LMNT is another top sponsor of the event. 

“We plan our LMNT annual team retreat around the PBR event in Big Sky. It’s great fun and one of the best settings within the Mountain West — congrats to our Big Sky community and events teams for cleaning event of the year yet again!” 

On July 20, the Big Sky PBR will return for its 12th rodeo.  

“We’re just looking forward to another great year of great bulls and great riders,” Williams said. “We will be putting on a great show.” 

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