DRUMMOND — Last year, the annual Drummond Kiwanis PRCA Rodeo was one of many events that was lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Sunday, the rodeo makes its triumphant return to cap off a weekend of festivities that the community is happy to have back.
It'll be the 80th rendition of the Drummond Rodeo when the event takes place on Sunday.
Co-chairs of the Drummond Rodeo Butch Friede and Ron Wetsch are arguably the busiest men in town, but the duo couldn't be happier because of what that means.
"Good to see. Good to do it. We’re ready," Friede said. "We just have a lot more interest. Everybody’s ready to go and go do something and rodeo is a Montana sport."
"A lot of people like this rodeo. It’s friendly, it’s a small town," Wetsch added. "It’s more of a one-on-one family-type deal where everybody has a good time and it’s just a lot of fun."
While some rodeos were able to carry on in 2020, Friede and Wetsch said the Drummond Rodeo didn't have enough help to ensure the guidelines and safety measures that were put in place by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) for rodeos around the country if they wanted to continue in the early portion of the pandemic.
So, they opted to skip it, and turned their gaze toward 2021.
The rodeo, which was inducted into the Montana Rodeo Hall of Fame in January of 2020, is expecting 179 competitors and up to 2,500 fans according to Friede and Wetsch, which would rank among one of the largest crowds to ever assemble for the annual affair. Both said the previous high for crowd attendance ranged from 2,000-2,100.
"Sunday looks like it’s going to be really full. Cool, let’s do it," Friede said. "Have a lot of interest in people wanting to come ready to go. So we’ll make it just as ready for them as we possibly can."
"It’s the thrill of it and everybody at one time or another wanted to be a cowboy or a cowgirl," Wetsch added. "I mean when you’re a little kid you’re always packing a little gun or riding a stick horse or something but it relates to Montana."
The events start on Saturday with a street dance and live band to kick off rodeo weekend. Then on Sunday, the rodeo slack competition will begin at 9 a.m., which will be followed up with a parade at noon, and then the main rodeo will begin at 2 p.m.
But bigger than anything, the rodeo brings business and entertainment back to the Drummond community as well as the surrounding areas like Hall, Helmville, Maxville and more. So those in charge can't wait to bring it back.
"Everything that we pretty well do goes back into kids and all these surrounding communities. Nobody here gets anything out of it. We don’t get paid anything. The people who work at it. Butch and I have never got a penny out of this for 30-some years and we probably never will and we don’t want it because we’re doing it for the community."