By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – As a cleansing rain cleared the smoke from the sky, the Big Sky community slipped on their cowboy boots and hats for an evening at the rodeo. On July 16, the second annual Big Sky Community Rodeo came to town for a rowdy night of roping, riding and mutton bustin’.
With an energetic crowd watching from 360-degree bleachers and music blasting, regional rodeo athletes stood outlined by flames and a helicopter flew in bearing the stars and stripes for the national anthem.
The format of the evening featured five rodeo athletes competing in each discipline, first in a long round and later in a shootout-style short round. The events included Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Breakaway Roping, Barrel Racing and Bull Riding.
The first long round gave each athlete a chance to strut their stuff and get some scores up on the board. Later, those same athletes competed in the adrenaline-filled shoot-out round to see who would triumph.
For the aspiring cowboys and cowgirls, Mutton Bustin’ kept the crowd on the edge of their seats between events, as well as a special 406 Rodeo where junior Roughstock kids rode miniature bucking stock.
Matt West, professional PBR and Western sports announcer, took the mic for the evening, eliciting laughs and keeping up a string of lively banter with the rodeo clown.
Andy Bolich, head rodeo coach for the Montana State University Bobcat Rodeo team, said that the rodeo was a blast and everyone had a good night in the saddle.
“The athletes did well, there are always a lot of variables in rodeo and you can’t control a lot of them but that’s rodeo and that’s why it’s so exciting and fun!” Bolich wrote in a comment to EBS.
Bolich himself competed in the Tie-Down Roping event, posting a 10 second time which earned him first place for the evening in Tie-Down Roping.
“When I’m competing, I try to keep the same mindset as in the practice pen and just stick to the basics,” he said. “I don’t compete very often anymore so it was a lot of fun to tie-down rope again last night.”
For the cowgirls, Paige Rasmussen took home some hardware for roping a calf in 2.6 seconds during the Breakaway Roping event. In addition to claiming first place in Breakaway Roping, Paige also took second place in Barrel Racing just behind her sister, Shelby Rasmussen, who snagged first.
Their father, Flint Rasmussen, also competed, winning another second place for the Rasmussen family in the Team Roping event with his partner, Richard Jones.
The rowdy rodeo energy carried over from the arena to Town Center Avenue, where electro-twang band Dirtwire kept the party going at the Big Sky Community Street Dance performing on the LMNT Stage.
The duo’s “swamp-tronica” sound brought the crowd to their feet and kept them dancing through the night. Through the use of several unique instruments and lots of beat drops, the group had dancers whooping and swaying to the hypnotizing beats.
Big Sky’s Biggest Week includes 10 days of events culminating with Big Sky PBR July 22-24, and is produced by Outlaw Partners, publisher of this newspaper and support by community partner Lone Mountain Land Company.
Up next on the docket is the Western Sports Foundation / Big Sky Bravery Black Bull Golf Tournament at the Black Bull Golf Course on July 20 and the inaugural Dick Allgood Community Bingo Night to follow the tournament at 6 p.m. in the PBR Basecamp Tent.