BIGFORK — The Bigfork Rodeo was kickstarted Tuesday and for the fourth consecutive year was a full house as Flathead Valley residents filled the stands to spend some quality time with family and friends and enjoy some good old fashioned American rodeo.
"This rodeo has become legendary in Bigfork. People come here from miles around to come to this rodeo and to come to Bigfork, Montana for their vacations," said VIP Manager of Bigfork Rodeo, Alida Tinch. "It’s become pretty special to a lot of people."
Even though cowboys, and fans, as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida make their way to Bigfork, the rodeo is still full of Montana cowboys like pro saddle bronc rider, Chase Brooks, who's looking forward to his Bigfork Rodeo debut.
"It feels more small town-y, kinda like the old rodeos you used to go to," said Brooks, a Deer Lodge native. "It doesn’t feel like quite as much pressure as the big ones and it’s more relaxing, kinda more fun, you just get back to hanging out, rodeoing with the guys."
At the end of 2021, Brooks finished in fourth in saddle bronc riding in the world standings at the National Finals Rodeo. Although he makes his way around the country, he says it’s hard to beat being in Montana.
"I like the small-town vibe you know, we travel a lot in the winter in the big cities and stuff and I’m not a crowd person, so coming out here and getting to be in the mountains, it’s pretty sweet," said Brooks with a smile.
Brooks isn't the only one who shares that sentiment. Tinch claims fans would be hard-pressed to find a better rodeo environment.
"Look at where we are, we are in God’s country," exclaimed Tinch as she gestured behind her. "It’s beautiful here, we couldn’t ask for better weather, the Swan Mountains in the background, it’s a stellar location."
Now in their fifth year of operating the rodeo, Tinch loves what she does and loves sharing it with everyone that makes it out.
"In the year we had COVID, we actually had permission to have this rodeo here in the first year of COVID. And the people were so excited to be out, to be embracing other people, to be embracing the opportunity to be in a crowd," said Tinch. "That was one of my favorite years of the rodeo, it truly was. It was the hardest to pull off but it was probably the best. The crowd was just incredibly ecstatic to be here. That makes us happy."
While this was the first rodeo of the summer, it certainly won’t be the last as the venue will be hosting the Montana’s Toughest Cowboy Rodeo on Friday July 29 and Saturday, July 30.