AUGUSTA — If you’ve been a rodeo any time in the past half century, chances are you’ve seen some Kesler family stock in live action. For more than 70 years now, the Kesler family has supplied bulls and bucking horses for rodeos across the United States and parts of Canada.
“My granddad started the rodeo business in 1946. He loved rodeo, he competed as a competitor in all the events of rodeo,” said Duane Kesler. "He really found a passion for the sport and from that day moving forward he decided to start raising rodeo stock and producing rodeo in the state of Montana as well into Canada.”
Duane Kesler took over the family business around 30 years ago, but it’s more of a lifestyle for him than it is a business.
“When you’re raised in this business it gets in your blood,” he said. “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life and that’s kind of what we were raised upon.”
In the fall of 1994, Duane bought out his grandfather and used his help along with his father to expand the business.
“We stared raising a lot more horses on our two ranches and rodeo was high demand. Soon we were going all over the United States and most of Northern Canada producing rodeos,” he said.
The Kesler family business is in its third generation and the next man up is preparing to keep it going. Duane has a 26 year-old son who he says loves the business just as much as he does and will continue to run it for years to come.
Duane’s family has produced the Augusta Rodeo for over 40 years, and is keeping the tradition going this year with Sunday's event. Business is technically the reason they keep coming back, but the Kesler family loves Augusta’s energy.
“To me, the Augusta rodeo and the people that live here in this community have made this rodeo no doubt the largest rodeo in the state of Montana and as far as that goes, the whole North West. Its got a reputation and the reason it does is they bring in good cowboys, top quality stock, and the best rodeo fans you can ever ask for.”