By Angel Wyrwas
The Fallon County Fair and Rodeo has won the Montana PRCA Circuit award for the best large rodeo in Montana the last two years. They’ve elevated their stature in the world of rodeo even more this year with their new award.
“There is no doubt that rodeo would have a hard time existing without hardworking rodeo committees. The WPRA recognizes rodeos in the large, medium and small committee category. Winning for the first time is the Fallon County Fair and Rodeo in Baker, Mont., in the large committee category for 2017,” said the WPRA in a statement announcing the award winners.
The announcement continued, “Each year, the little town of Baker swells as big names in rodeo flood in for the rodeo. It has put itself on the map as a great-paying one-head rodeo that brings in top contestants and provides lots of excitement.”
Fallon County was competing against other large big name rodeos like Denver, CO., San Antonio, TX., Cheyenne, WY. and Pendleton, OR. In order to be in the large rodeo category, the rodeo has to have at least a $10,000 purse for the event. At this year’s 94th annual Fallon County Fair and Rodeo, there was $15,000 in added money in barrel racing, tie-down roping and single steer roping.
Two years ago, the committee for Baker decided to add money into the team-roping event after the loss of a team-roping mentor, Rodney Askin. The $15,000 added money was a hit, and thanks to a large sponsor-base for the rodeo, they were able to add money again this year.
“We decided to pick three events, and we wanted to feature the barrels as one of them,” explained Jerrid Geving, 2017 Rodeo Director. “The women work just as hard and travel just as many miles as the cowboys.”
“Rodeo is a tough sport that takes a lot of time and money, not to mention the wear and tear on their bodies,” said Lani DeBuhr, manager of the Fallon County Fairgrounds for the 2017 rodeo. “When contestants come to Fallon County they feel welcome and appreciated.”
Changes made over the last several years have positioned Fallon County’s rodeo at the top. In 2015 the Fair Board made significant improvements to the arena, turning the facility into one of the best in Montana. “Improving our arena, making it bigger, made it more suitable for the barrel racers especially,” said Eddie Coulter, fair board member and 2018 Rodeo Director. “In fact, the young lady that won in barrel racing at this year’s rodeo had a great payout. That win led her to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo.”
The award will be accepted at the PRCA Convention in December in Las Vegas.
One award would have been an honor in itself but the Fallon County Rodeo will also be inducted into the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame this January in Billings. “No other rodeo is doing what we’re doing,” said Coulter. “We expect it to get bigger and bigger and keep rotating our featured events. Featured events will have double the purse. We also hired a new stock contractor out of Canada for this year that we are really excited about.”
“The fair board’s mission statement says we will provide wholesome affordable quality family entertainment to the citizens of Fallon County and the outlying counties,” said Coulter. “It’s something we’re passionate about.”