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Eiker Has Seen Rodeo From All Angles


June 27, 2024

Paul Eiker has been involved with rodeo for a long time. Pretty much his entire life.

“Rodeo, it just gets into your blood,” said the Glendive cowboy.

Eiker has seen rodeo from all angles and worked in every capacity.

A stock contractor for the Northern Rodeo Association and Northern Women’s Rodeo Association for more than a quarter of a century, Eiker likes what he sees across the state of Montana.

“The NRA, to me it goes to the roots of rodeo,” said Eiker, who handles Big Circle Rodeo. It is a partnership with Sparky Dreesen of Circle, who also owns J Bar J which produces PRCA events.

“With the junior events, the whole family can rodeo. At so many places you see grandparents and grandkids team roping together. That’s a pretty cool deal. And in barrel racing you have grandmother, daughter and granddaughter. Pretty cool to see multiple generations.”

That view goes both ways.

This weekend, Big Circle Rodeo will load up three semitrailers filled with bucking horses, bulls, steers and calves for a 10-hour drive across the state to Polson.

“It’s our longest trip of the year,” Eiker said. With a chuckle, he added a comparison.

“It’s shorter trip to Granite Falls (Minnesota),” he said where J Bar J had a rodeo last weekend. It is 631 miles from Glendive to Polson and 607 from Circle to Granite Falls.

Accompanying Eiker will be his wife Marlene, daughters Torrie Eiker, Kortney Diegel and Haylee Langan, sons-in-laws and the grandchildren.

“It’s pretty much a family affair,” said Eiker.

And there is no free ride. Torrie is a rodeo secretary while Kortney and Haylee are timers. Travis Langan, Haylee’ s husband, is a bullfighter.

“The grandchildren help out. They help sort the animals, feed and water all of them,” added the grandfather. “We’ve been doing this for so long now so everybody knows what everybody is doing.

“I think,” Eiker finished with a laugh.

If there is a problem, it doesn’t last long. “Sometimes we have an issue. You just work through it,” said Eiker. Family advice is never far away.

“My daughter Torrie will tell me, ‘That calf needs to be cut from the herd,’ It’s nice to have a critic in the family,” Eiker said. Torrie Eiker also competes in breakaway roping.

Big Circle Rodeo has consistently provided award-winning bucking stock to NRA/NWRA events. Dirty Dancer was voted the NRA Bareback Horse of the Year for 2023, while the competitors selected Melrose the top bareback horse and Loaded Dice the top bull at the NRA Finals.

Eiker and his family also produce high school and junior high rodeos and provide practice stock for the Dawson Community College rodeo program. The school honored Eiker and his wife with the Legacy Award last year.

The family also owns and trucking company and repair shop in Glendive.

“That funds our rodeo habit,” said Eiker.

Following Polson, Big Circle Rodeo will produce Ennis (July 3-4) and East Helena (July 12-13). Eiker said the bucking stock will remain in the western part of the state and the family will bring home the steers and calves to re-sort and refresh.

Then it’s back on the road. After East Helena Big Circle Rodeo will be at Havre, Plentywood, Scobey, Livingston and Wibaux to close out the summer.

“The biggest thing about doing this, honestly, is the people,” Eiker said. “You meet all kinds of people. People with good morals.”

Last week

Those darn teenagers.

Bull rider Devyn Hundley of Darby and Wolf Creek barrel racer Payton Levine were the winners at Valley View in Bozeman. It was the first of three Valley View rodeos sanctioned by the NRA/NWRA this summer.

Hundley went 85 points to win the bull riding, It is the high-marked score of the year. Levine, already one of the NWRA’s top breakaway ropers, won the barrel racing. Both will be competing at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

A pair of veterans – Quinn McQueary of Belgrade and Dillon’s Kevin Peterson – went 1-2 in the tie-down roping. Molly Salmond of Choteau, McQueary’s cousin, won the breakaway roping.

Bozeman winners: Sebastian Holaten, Belgrade, bareback; Paul Allyn O’Hair, Livingston, saddle bronc; Devyn Hundley, Darby, bull riding; Jaxson Petersen, Helena, steer wrestling; Quinn McQueary, Belgrade, tie-down roping; Steve Sherwood-Kayden Sherwood, Quitman, team roping; Payton Levine, Wolf Creek, barrel racing; Molly Salmond, Choteau, breakaway roping; Chaney Akin, Cody, Wyoming, junior barrel racing; Tye Brown, Helena, junior breakaway roping.

Up next

Hold on to your cowboy hat.

This weekend starts a frantic schedule that has seven rodeos in 10 days, including the annual “Cowboy Christmas” events during the Fourth of July.

It starts with the Mission Ridge Mountain Rodeo in Polson and Big Timber, both July 28-29. Polson performances are 7 p.m. each night while Big Timber will go at 7 p.m. on July 28 and 6 p.m. on July 29.

There will be a 1 p.m. performance at Opheim on June 30.

The Fourth of July run begins in Harlowton July 2-3 with 6:30 p.m. performances. Ennis is July 3-4 at 7 p.m. each night and Choteau will be at 2 p.m. on July 4.

Malta is July 6-7, starting at 6 p.m. on July 6 and finishing at 1 p.m. on July 7.

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