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Rodeo the state sport of Montana? One group hopes to make it official

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Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 17, 2023

HELENA — A ballot initiative has been filed to designate rodeo as the official state sport of Montana.

The initiative, filed by a group headed by Troy Hudson of Stevensville, has been sent to the Montana attorney general’s office for review. Once the proposed statutory initiative receives regulatory approval, some 30,100 signatures will have to be collected in order to have the measure appear on the November 2024 general election ballot.

"I grew up in a Montana ranch family. Having worked with livestock and cowboys all of my life, I understand the social and cultural importance of the American rodeo," Hudson stated in a press release. "For many Montana towns, the rodeo is the community event of the year.

"This is because it brings together a showcase of the Montana way of life, while preserving family traditions and western values. It is also one of the few sports where both the animals and the cowboys and cowgirls are the featured athletes."

Language of the proposal states that the initiative will designate in law that the American rodeo is the official sport of Montana. The group states that the American rodeo is both the embodiment of the historic Montana way of life and a celebration of the states unique western culture.

Another sponsor of the initiative, James Brown of Dillon, stated: "I can see no more appropriate way to honor the history of rodeo and its place in Montana history than to make rodeo the Treasure State’s sport.” If this measure is to be enacted by the people, the American rodeo will be put in a place in Montana law next to Montana’s other treasures, such as the Western Meadowlark, the Grizzly Bear, and the Bitterroot flower.”

The group filed the ballot initiative with the Montana secretary of state in July. If the ballot measure is approved for circulation, the committee will make appearances at rodeos and other community events throughout Montana in order to collect the requisite amount of signatures.