The Fallon County Fair Rodeo is the best large rodeo in the state of Montana and it has the award to prove it.
By Sherry Vogel
January 16, Baker, Montana was awarded the Montana PRCA Circuit Large Rodeo Award for 2015 at the annual award ceremonies held in Great Falls.
Due to a joint effort by the previous fair board members, area businesses and private citizens who pulled together to upgrade the arena and came through on pledges of financial support to increase the payout prize money, Baker’s rodeo was successful in beating out ten other rodeos vying for the large rodeo distinction.
The state’s rodeos are categorized as small, medium and large, not based on size, but instead based on the amount of prize money offered in the purse.
The small award went to Bozeman. The medium award was bestowed upon Dillon. Baker with a whopping purse of $60,000 far surpassed the amount for the large award.
Although the small, medium and large awards are awarded by size of prize money, one has to also take into account that the rodeo contestants who hold a Montana PRCA Rodeo Circuit card do the voting and the Fallon County rodeo grounds is impressive. Although the spacious 1,338 seating capacity covered grandstand, completed in 2011, makes the viewing area very comfortable for the spectators. The contestants couldn’t help but note the latest improvements made to the working side of the rodeo this past summer.
The rodeo arena has a new layout, which offers the contestant a more streamlined route to enter the rodeo grounds. The arena includes a larger newly constructed crow’s nest, a new timed event chute adjoining the existing six bucking chutes, new stock pens and a spacious rodeo office. The area also boasts a hospitality tent area.
Wanda Pinnow, fair board member, 2006 to 2015, shared this insight to the many improvements made. “We have needed to upgrade the rodeo arena for some time. The bucking chutes side (east) was three feet lower in elevation than the west side (grandstand side). So when we had a soaker rain, the bucking chutes themselves would fill with water. Our barrel racing barrels, number two and number three, had soft spots, so barrel racers did not like to run the pattern. The crow’s nest was very small by the time you got two timers, one announcer and a music tech in it on a hot day it was very uncomfortable. The windows were placed inconveniently, making it difficult for the timers to see. The distance between the chutes and fence was not enough distance for the broncs. They would run towards the fence then turn, not always safe. With the timed event chute on the opposite end of the cattle, it was a troublesome time trying to get the cattle down at the other end. With the new set-up, the parking, rodeo office, roping chute, and barrel entry gate are all in one place, not spread out. Now the contestants have an easier way of getting in and out using Airport Road 19 entrance. All contestants are in one zone with this set-up. It enables us to have a hospitality tent where brunch and lunch can be served to the contestants all three days. The residents of Fallon County have a lot to be proud of because of this community effort.”
The Fallon County Fair Board released this statement: There were a lot of people in the community who made this award possible. We look forward to another great rodeo in 2016 and hope we can get an award back in this part of the state again next year.