NRA is a staple of the Fourth of July holiday

By JOE KUSEK

July 2, 2020

There are certain staples associated with the Fourth of July holiday.


Family fun, fireworks and plenty of good fun quickly come to mind.


And for rodeo fans, it isn’t a Fourth of July without Northern Rodeo Association and Northern Women’s Rodeo Associated events in Ennis and Harlowton.


Ennis, celebrating its 66th year, has performances July 2 and 3.


“It’s been there forever,” said Chief Croy, Ennis committee chairman of the event held in one of the most scene regions of Montana. “Everybody likes to be here.”


Harlowton, going 68 years strong, will be going July 2, 3 and 4.


With Fourth of July rodeos across North America shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rodeo in Wheatland County took another route. Harlowton added an extra performance to accommodate its fans and contestants.


“We’re just trying to give our community the best performances we can,” said Harlowton committee chairman Mitch Pavlovick. “We try to put in everything we can to put on the best show possible.”


The stock contractor for Harlowton is Red Eye Rodeo which showcases some of the NRA’s top bulls and saddle bronc horses.


Along with the NRA and NRWA’s top competitors, Harlowton will be offering mutton busting and mini-bareback riding. It is also offering ranch bronc riding in conjunction with Big Timber and Wilsall. The rider with the best overall score is awarded specialized saddle.


Wilsall and Choteau’s annual Fourth of July rodeo, were victims of the coronavirus. Both Harlowton and Ennis will be following COVID-19 guidelines set by their local health departments and the NRA and NWRA.


Big Circle Rodeo, which has a long list of NRA bareback horses of the year, will be providing the stock at Ennis.


Ennis is annually a must-stop for cowboys and cowgirls for one important reason.


“We’re one of the top NRA rodeos for added money,” said Croy. “We want to draw the top contestants.”

And both long-time rodeos have a similar goal.


“We want to give fans a better show every year,” said Pavlovick.


Besides, you never know who will be entering.


Wanting to scratch a competitive itch, reigning world champion Ty Erickson of Helena entered the steer wrestling in Big Timber last weekend.


Not only did Erickson win, the large Helena cowboy put his steer down in a swift 3.1 seconds. The time is believed to be the fastest in the NRA’s long history.


Erickson last competed in the NRA in 2010.


He wasn’t the only competitor in a hurry. Hailey Garrison of Glen won the barrel racing by a scant four-hundredths of a second while Cut Bank’s Alicia Bird won the breakaway roping with a time of 2.2 seconds. One full second separated the top nine finishers.

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