From the Fringe...
Havre, Chinook, Big Sandy, the entire Hi-Line for that matter, it’s all rodeo country. There’s no denying that. And this week marks the biggest rodeo week of the year.
It’s Great Northern Fair time in Havre, and that means many things to many people. But one thing that will certainly stand out over the next three days, is the rodeo action inside the Great Northern Fairgrounds arena.
It’s interesting that, for all of the excellent cowboys and cowgirls, all of the passion for rodeo in and around Havre, that only two big rodeos take place at this city each year, and they’re pretty close together.
Rodeo fans better get their fix right now, because the only other big-time rodeo to hit the fairgrounds will come in September when the MSU-Northern Rodeo happens during Havre’s Festival Days.
First up this week is tonight’s Havre Junior Rodeo. This rodeo has been a staple of the Great Northern Fair for years, and it gives youths in our area a chance to compete in the big arena. The biggest draw in tonight’s rodeo is the sheep riding. Go to any junior rodeo and the sheep riding gets the crowd going every time.
But the Havre Junior Rodeo offers all events to kids, so youths can compete in almost everything the big boys do, except for the true rough stock events. Still, tonight, you’ll see fast barrel racers, you’ll see teenage boys try their hand at the steers in both steer wrestling and as well as steer riding, you’ll see pole bending, and you’ll see team roping. In essence, you’ll see the future of rodeo in our area, and that’s what makes the Junior Rodeo a special way to kick things off.
Then, Friday night, the action turns to the professionals for two nights.
The Great Northern Rodeo is a Northern Rodeo Association sanctioned event, but it’s unique in that it also accepts all Indian rodeo association sanction cards, so many Native American contestants can earn points towards the Indian National Finals Rodeo through the Havre rodeo.
And though the Great Northern Rodeo is a big stop on the NRA circuit, it certainly gives the opportunity for local cowboys and cowgirls to pick up a paycheck as well. There will be some of the best NRA competitors around at this week’s rodeo, but you’ll also see plenty of familiar names, from Havre, Box Elder, Rocky Boy, Big Sandy, Rudyard and Chinook, as well as many rural points in between.
That’s another special, and unique feature of the great rodeo.
And our arena is special too. Sure, it isn’t as big as some of the top rodeo arenas around Montana, but we’ve got history on our side. It would take me writing three columns to name the many greats who have hit the dirt in the grand ol’ Great Northern arena over the years, but just know, the arena, and those who have competed in it over the years, make it one of the most historic in the state.
There is no question Havre is a big rodeo town. It always has been and it always will be. But it isn’t often that we get to put that love and passion for the arena on display. Well, one of those times is here now. The moment has arrived.
In other words, it’s fair week. And that means it’s rodeo time in Havre. Get ready for the dirt to fly, the horses to buck and the bulls to snort. And hang on, because it’s going to be a wild next three days.