Cowboys and cowgirls of the after 40-set will be in Hamilton Friday and Saturday for the annual Sr. Pro Rodeo. Each day is a separate rodeo and points earned will be counted separately. All of the traditional events will be on tap plus the ribbon roping which is a true crowd pleaser. This event is a combination of tie down roping and a track meet. The cowboy catches the calf, dismounts and mugs the calf down so that the runner, a cowgirl, can grab the ribbon off of the calf’s tail and race back, on foot, to the finish line. These cowgirls can really run but they like it when the calf is caught closer to the finish line and will let the cowboy know if they’ve had to run too far.
The cowboys and cowgirls compete in three age groups – 40-50, 50-60, and 60 plus years. There are many former world champions competing from not only the Sr. Pro Rodeo Association but also from the PRCA, (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association).
In addition to the rodeo, there are a few other activities for the audience to enjoy. The Bitterroot Mountettes will perform their precision horseback drills and show why they are consistently one of the top drill teams in Montana. There is also Mutton Bustin’ for the young cowpokes. Cowboys and cowgirls under the age of six will don safety gear and climb on a sheep. There are several different techniques used in this event ranging from hanging on for dear life to holding on and sitting up just like a bull rider does. The Montana Miniature Bull Riding will also run both nights. This features a little older cowboy, or cowgirl, riding a real bull. The mini bulls typically are no taller than 47 inches. The contestant can weigh no more than 135 pounds. Buckles will be awarded to the winners. These events start off the rodeo at 6 p.m.
Once again the Behind the Chutes Tours will be running from 5 to 5:30pm and again from 5:30 to 6pm. These tours offer a glimpse of what happens prior to an event with the cowboys themselves offering insights into the world of rodeo. Tickets are $25 and are available at the Fairgrounds office only.
On June 30th, there will be cowboy music and poetry at the Ravalli County Museum beginning at 2pm. The museum is the site of the National Senior Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and features photos, posters, buckles and saddles of award winning cowboys. It is a great exhibit for those who have followed rodeo for years and for those who are new to the sport.
The rodeo runs from 7 – 9 pm both nights. There will be slack from 8am to 2pm both days. Slack is the overflow from the rodeo contestants. The nightly show features only six or seven contestants per event but there are usually many more entered so the extras run in the slack. For more information, call the Fairgrounds office at 363-3411.