At the Wilsall Rodeo

Cowboy Poetry Week, April 19-25, 2015, got me nostalgic for the pure American joy I am blessed with living and working in the rural West.  It took me a week longer than Cowboy Poetry Week to dig this back out, but here’s a throwback from Montana Days, my tribute to small town rodeo.

Cheyenne Frontier Days Bull Riding

At the Wilsall Rodeo (2001)

Bucking horse breaks bareback out of the old wooden shoots
And heads for the corral gate now bare of his rider
Who limps away and cowboys up
Like he did last night at Gardiner up the road.

Today is the 48th showing of the Wilsall Rodeo.
Peaceful Shields Valley and Crazy Woman
Mountains framed behind the stock shoots
The very picture of what Montana is supposed to be.

Calf ropers school in the far end of the arena, horses nervous, skittish, pacing
You know Rob Kountz gets his cow but his Mrs. misses hers again
Rope twisting and laughing sudden winds
Link they did last night at Gardiner up the road.

Dust, wind, snow, rain, clouds, shadow, dirt, hay,
manure, beer, chew, too much perfume,
chattering teenagers, the rodeo dance,
former beauty queens who really need to wear more not less anymore.

Young bucks on broncs, off them broncs and bulls,
Steer wresting and steers are winning.
Calf ropin’ calves that don’t care to be roped.
Timer’s horse tears out, rears up, but he keeps his flag
in the air until that cow’s down.

What is the attraction in this internet age?
Man vs. beast? Real danger? See Lane Frost ride again?
Support Americana in Culture Wars?
Or maybe just the annual real life dusty drama unfolding,
Like it did last night at Gardiner up the road.


The Wilsall Rodeo, sanctioned by the Northern Rodeo Association, will take place 20-21 of June this year.  Gardiner holds their rodeo, also a Northern Rodeo, on 19-20 June.  The season will open with the Conrad Whoop-Up Rodeo 6-7 June, 2015.  I like the local rodeos where you can get right up in the dust on the rail.  Plus they tend to be more affordable than the Pro Rodeo events.

Rob Kountz of Bozeman was Montana Pro Rodeo Federation All-Around Cowboy of 2001.  The summer Pro Rodeo circuit kicks off in Montana with the Bear Paw Roundup 19-20 June, 2015, and Little Belt Rodeo at Belt 20-21.  Lane Frost was a popular PRCA cowboy, who was killed by his bull on 30 July 1989, in the arena at Cheyenne Frontier Days, age 25.



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