BIGFORK — Friday night the second annual Bigfork PRCA rodeo began and even though it is just the second year, it felt like an established event. But a lot of times we don’t get to see the people behind the scenes.
“It’s very unique, it’s in-your-face rodeo. There’s really not many rodeos like this in the country,” said Rob Brisendine, manager of the event.
Last year, Bigfork became host to one of the PRCA’s Cowboy Christmas rodeos. The rodeo, so far, is proving to be something special.
One thing that sets this three-day event apart from others is the manpower that goes into the setup of the rodeo in the months leading up to it.
“Most rodeos’ stock contractor just rolls in with stock and puts on a rodeo. This deal here, we build it from the ground up,” said stock contractor Roy Whitford. “Me and my wife and a couple of friends do the most of the labor. We have a couple of sons that take care of most of the stock, and I have a partner that supplies the bulls.”
And it’s not just the rodeo itself that makes this weekend special but the community it’s surrounded by.
“Bigfork, Montana is one of the coolest towns in America, all of the world. And I always thought they needed a rodeo here,” Whitford said. “There are so many people here on the Fourth of July weekend, and the townspeople just love it and there’s plenty of tourists in town.”
The Flathead Valley has responded well. Brisendine said that after a great turnout last year, the rodeo had to be expanded for 2019.
“The first year we were just overwhelmed with home many people came to watch this rodeo. It was absolutely amazing to see the energy here and atmosphere that was created by this small-town rodeo,” Brisendine said. “So, what we really did this year, we went in and added infrastructural improvements and added 1,000 seats here, so we’re really hoping to fill these next few days.”
The crowds surely turned out on Day 1 as more than double the number of people came through the gates on Friday night. As for the future, Brisendine doesn’t see the rodeo slowing down anytime soon.
“Our hope for doing this with New West Rodeo and the Whitfords is really to have this event here after none of us are. The intent here is to really build something, and hopefully it’s here in the next 100 years,” said Brisendine.