HARLOWTON — With rodeos around the state and country canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Harlowton Rodeo committee saw an opportunity.
The annual Wheatland County rodeo is still a go for Fourth of July weekend, kicking off its activities on July 2.
“Always worked towards making sure it was going to go. We talked to our county commissioners, city council, chamber, and we were always going to try to have this,” said Mitch Pavlovick, the president of the rodeo committee.
Further, the Harlowton Rodeo will feature some great talent it might not have otherwise attracted.
PRCA announcer Ray Champ will be on the call at Harlowton. He was originally supposed to be on the microphone at the Calgary Stampede over July 4th, but that event was among the many canceled this summer.
Whistle-Nut and Ole will also bring their act to Harlowton after the Livingston Roundup was canceled. The tandem will entertain the crowd and give fans the opportunity to interact with Ole, a former bucking bull who has been broke to allow kids a chance to ride him or play tug of war.
“We really tried to kind of knock it out of the park, get the best acts, get the best talent we can in here while we’ve got an opportunity to get these guys, beings everything else shut down,” Pavlovick said.
The Harlowton Rodeo is sanctioned by the National Rodeo Association (NRA) and is one of just a handful of rodeos scheduled to run the Fourth of July weekend. Rodeos are also scheduled for Roundup, Ennis, Lincoln and Bigfork over the July 4th weekend.
It’s a far cry from a typical year when rodeo contestants can rack up miles and entry fees chasing paychecks during Cowboy Christmas, leading to record entries for some events. Pavlovick said the Harlowton Rodeo hasn’t seen the uptick in entries yet, but they’re hopeful more will come.
“(The cancellations have) got to be detrimental (for contestants),” Pavlovick said. “I mean, this is what those guys and gals practice for all year long, is Cowboy Christmas. It’s got to be just terrible on them. I can’t imagine.”
“We actually added a performance (to entice more entrants),” he added. “Usually we’re just the 2nd and 3rd, and we added a performance on the 4th to hopefully help out the contestants that are going to be in Roundup, because they’re still a go.”
If contestants or fans end up in Harlowton, they’ll be treated to a weekend full of activities — within the coronavirus-implemented state and county guidelines, of course. The committee has marked off the bleachers at Chief Joseph Park to ensure social distancing measures are followed, and hand sanitizer will be provided at the venue.
In addition to three nights of rodeo July 2, 3 and 4, there will also be live music all three nights, parades on July 3 and 4 and fireworks after the July 4 performance. A local trick rider will perform, and then there will be mutton busting and a calf scramble, as well.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Pavlovick said. “It should be a great time.”
For more information, visit the Harlowton Rodeo Facebook page.