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Festivities begin in Chinook


Weekend warriors seeking fun in the sun, good food, live music and rodeo action need look no further than Chinook this weekend, as events planned for the next three days promise all that and more.

Kicking off tonight with an exclusive barbecue, the weekend includes a street dance, a parade, and a giant garage sale, all during the fifth annual Bear Paw Roundup rodeo.

Rodeo president Shane Schwenke said that this year promises to be the best in the rodeo's short but distinguished career.

"We're all really excited," he said."It should be great."

The rodeo boasts its strongest field yet, Schwenke said.

"This the largest contestant entry we've had," he said, adding that participants from Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona and Idaho have signed up to compete. In all, 251 contestants will vie for $20,000 in prizes and points toward pro rodeo standings.

Weekend festivities will kick off tonight with a barbecue for Silver Spur club members. Club members pay $100 to support the club, and receive a steak dinner and two rodeo tickets in return.

The steak dinner will begin at 7 p.m. at the Pastime Lounge in Chinook. Attending the event will be rodeo clown Bryon Hope, Miss Rodeo Montana Lori Dodge, and rodeo announcers Randy and Amber Schmutz.

Anyone interested in joining the Silver Spur club should call Wendy Paige at 357-2227.

A cowboy calcutta auction will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Pastime Lounge. Rodeo performances will begin each night at 7 p.m.

The rodeo includes traditional events as well as one unique team competition that Schwenke described only as "wild cow milking."

The event promises to be "fun and exciting," Schwenke said.

The Bear Paw Roundup is the third of 22 stops on the Montana professional rodeo tour. In addition to the prize money, points accumulated will count toward world rodeo standings.

Schwenke said the rodeo turnout in previous years has been "really good."

"We have great support," he said. "Between businesses and individuals, local support has been really strong. It's a great group."

Bull riders may be in for a wild ride if they draw an infamous Brahma Angus bull named Bear Paw. The 5-year-old bull started his rodeo career at the Bear Paw Roundup in 2001, and has since earned a reputation as one of the toughest bulls in rodeo.

The bull earned national recognition in December when cowboy Cody Hancock rode it for a 90-point ride during the National Finals Rodeo.

Bear Paw was bred by the Brookman Rodeo Co. of Wolf Point. Brookman Rodeo Co. manager Dave Wieferich said in a press release that many bull riders have trouble with Bear Paw because "he just spins so fast."

The Bear Paw Roundup coincides with the Chinook Chamber of Commerce's annual West Fest, which includes a street dance, parade, barbecue, and the first-ever Junk Fest.

The West Fest starts Friday night with a street dance in downtown Chinook. A live band will play at the Eagles Club parking lot beginning at 9 p.m.

The barbecue, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, will begin at noon on Saturday. The cost is $3 a plate.

The Junk Fest will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning in downtown Chinook. A number of vendors will peddle their wares to what is expected to be a strong rodeo turnout. The Junk Fest will take place in the vacant lot across from Main Street in Chinook. The street will be closed for the event. Indoor space is available in the event of poor weather, organizer Patty Wass said.

Interested parties should contact Wass at 357-4124 to register for the Junk Fest.

The parade will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday. It will have a patriotic theme and everyone is welcome to participate. Horses, children, floats and other vehicles are welcome to enter the parade, said parade organizer Nancy Hansen.

People with questions or who would like to register should call Hansen at 357-3272.


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