Stage set for PRCA rodeo


Last fall, after the Eastern Montana Fair was over, suggestions were made that the fair should upgrade from a Northern Rodeo Association production to a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event. Gail Shaw, fair manager, started contacting providers and donors. As a result, this summer the Kesler Championship Rodeo will be providing stock at the fair and several top-ranked rodeo cowboys hope to compete in a PRCA-sanctioned event.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the rodeo will start on Tuesday, August 18, the day before the fair proper, and will continue on Wednesday, August 19.  The fair will run Wednesday through Saturday of that week.

There will be a limited number of box seats available for the rodeo. People interested in purchasing a box should contact the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce or Shaw after August 1.

According to Shaw, among the competitors who hope to compete at this year’s rodeo “are several National Finals Rodeo qualifiers and NFR-caliber contestants.”

Jessie Davis, who has been ranked in the top 10 of the Million Dollar Tour and in the top 20 of world bareback standings; Jessie Kruse, past world champion bronc rider; Lindsay Kruse, top-ranked barrel racer; Chase Erickson, top 20 bareback rider in 2014; Cody DeMoss, top 10 in bronc riding; and Cesar de la Cruz and Jo Jo LaMond, top-ranked team ropers, are planning to be at the rodeo.

Kesler Championship Rodeo has been providing stock for rodeos for four generations and more than 60 years. 

They provide stock for events such as the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo, Calgary Stampede and rodeos from Texas to Alaska. Rodeos in Livingston and Kalispell have featured Kesler stock.

Many of their award-winning animals have also competed at the National Finals Rodeo, including Miles Away, Starburst, Street Dance, Bonus Alley, Country Cat, Smiling Cat and Alley Ways. They also provide proven bulls such as Kill Switch, Commando, Grand Slam and Whiskey Jack.

Shaw and the board are hoping that this summer’s PRCA rodeo will just be the beginning. In the first half of the 20th century, Shaw says, the “Big Four” northern rodeos were Calgary, Pendleton, Cheyenne and Miles City. The Miles City Roundup, which lasted for more than 40 years in the days before the Bucking Horse Sale, was the rodeo cowboys attended in Miles City.

Shaw says the board hopes this rodeo “will be the revival of the Miles City Roundup.”

There will be bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie down roping and barrel racing.

In addition to the professional competition, Shaw says they are planning on a local event every night, depending on availability of stock. They are hoping to introduce a “monkey on a rope” competition that includes two cowboys, one horse, and one person who can shinny up a rope quickly.

The Grand Entry will feature Stevenson’s wagon team with sponsor flags on display, so everyone can see who helped bring PRCA rodeo back to Miles City, and other traditional pageantry.

One big difference between PRCA and smaller NRA events, according to Shaw, is the the PRCA events are “run like a Broadway show” complete with music and a tightly organized schedule. PRCA events are designed to run two hours and 20 minutes, with only a few minutes leeway.

The NRA rodeo cost the Fair Board around $5,000, with the PRCA rodeo costing between $35,000 and $40,000 for the two-day event. As soon as the word got out last fall that the Fair Board was aiming for the PRCA, sponsors and donors have been lining up to help make the rodeo happen.

The money has been raised, the rodeo has been booked, and the Eastern Montana Fair will be providing some top-notch rodeo action reminiscent of great rodeos of the past. And, with luck, continuing into the future.