BIGFORK — In 2020, the Bigfork Rodeo was one of the few rodeos in Montana that moved forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The standard is held pretty high in Bigfork. Year in and year out, the Bigfork Rodeo is one of the top rodeos in the state, and some of the best cowboys in the world will be competing.
"We started it four years ago, and it's just grown every year since then," said Bigfork Rodeo event coordinator Rob Brisendine. "You know, the first year we had about 1,000 people, the second year went to 1,500. This year we're going to have over 3,500 people per night, so almost 10,000 people over the three days."
"By the looks of it, they've got an awesome crowd here," added bull rider Tristen Hutchings. "Not too hot. A lot of these rodeos I've been to it has been hundred and three degrees. It should be fun. We all got good bulls drawn, good stock, and a great committee, and I'm excited."
Though still a relatively new rodeo, the future is bright as the demand to attend grows more and more each year.
"I think that we are going to get to a point where we just cap what we are doing and just know that we can put on a good show," said Brisendine.
The Flathead Valley crowd seems to be what fires up these cowboys. That's what Hutchings, who won the National College Finals Rodeo bull riding title back in June, said about the Bigfork event.
"But they pump us up so much and it feels really good having them cheer us on again," Hutchings said.
"It is a sweet rodeo to come to," added team roper Erich Rogers. "It's at the end of the week of the Fourth of July run, so it's kind of a one where we're up here in a beautiful country, get to hang out and just good people."
The 2020 version of this rodeo was limited in numbers. With everyone back and officially cheering on the competitors again, it was an atmosphere they'll never forget.
"You're gonna be sitting down here you're gonna get dirt kicked on your face," Brisendine said. "I mean that's what people love about that. And that's what we maintain about having this experience for these fans so; it's awesome. We're never gonna lose that."