BILLINGS, Mont. – October is fall time, and with the changing of the leaves in Montana means the cows are coming down from the hills and harvest is wrapping up.
For the cowboys and cowgirls that make their living traveling the PRCA Rodeo Circuit, gunning for the coveted National Finals Rodeo, the fall also means the beginning of the qualifying year. As one of the first rodeos for the qualifying season, the NILE’s PRCA sanctioned rodeo has come to be a prestigious event.
The NILE ProRodeo will run from Oct. 17-20, and some of rodeo’s most elite athletes will be in attendance this year, competing for some serious cash. For 2019, the ante has been upped, with an additional $3,000 added to each event, making the added monies now total $10,000 per event.
“At $7,000 added per event we saw some of the big guys, at $10,000 added we are going to see some phenomenal talent from all over the country at this rodeo,” explained Jennifer Boka, general manager of the NILE.
The added money isn’t the only thing new to the NILE ProRodeo. For the first time, on Wednesday, Oct. 16, the men’s timed events will have a long-go with the top 30 competitors returning to compete during the nightly performances. Boka explains this way guarantees fans will be seeing the best-of-the-best tie-down ropers, calf ropers, team ropers and steer wrestlers each night.
Thursday night, Oct. 17, will be the High School Showcase, highlighting the up and comers from around high school rodeo in Montana. The top two competitors from each event and the top two team roping teams at the conclusion of the fall Montana High School Rodeo season will be invited back to compete against rodeo’s best.
Friday, Oct. 18, will be the iconic “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night,” presented by St. Vincent Healthcare. For this performance, all fans and competitors are encouraged to wear pink in support for breast cancer awareness. The NILE will pledge $1 from every ticket sold to the “Eva Project,” a special project of St. Vincent Healthcare where they provide free mammograms to limited income women over 40 years of age who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Other area businesses will be donating to the cause as well. If a contestant wearing pink wins his or her respective event, they will receive a $100 “pink bonus,” sponsored by Yellowstone Surgery Center.
The final night of the rodeo, Saturday, Oct. 19, will be the “Wrangler Patriot Night” where America’s armed service men and women, along with their families, will be honored for their sacrifice to this great country. This will be the final night of the NILE Stock Show, so the performance will be a true grand finale.
NILE ProRodeo performances start at 7 p.m., each night in the First Interstate Arena, located in Metra Park.
A traditional PRCA rodeo won’t be the only rodeo action at the NILE this year. The NILE has been hosting a ranch rodeo for the past 13 years, which turned into a ranch rodeo finals ten years ago. NILE sanctioned ranch rodeos happened throughout the summer with the winning team from each rodeo advancing to the NILE for a chance at glory, money, and of course, bragging rights.
The ranch rodeo will actually kick off the NILE’s week of exciting events on Saturday, Oct. 12, starting at 7 p.m. Four-man teams (five if there is a designated bronc rider) will be competing in events that mimic tasks everyday cowboys may perform on a working ranch.
At the NILE, events will include ranch bronc riding, wild cow milking, team branding, team trailering and team doctoring. While the NILE PRCA Rodeo may be thought of as the professional man’s rodeo, the ranch rodeo can be thought of as a working man’s rodeo. In fact, most of the men and women competing in the NILE Ranch Rodeo will work cows all day, rodeo that night, and then back to work the next morning.
The NILE Ranch Rodeo is a series final, but it is not the end of the line for the overall winner. The winning team at the NILE will qualify for the Western States Ranch Rodeo Finals in Winnemucca, Nev.
Following the Ranch Rodeo, the rodeo arena will turn into a dance hall with Kyle Shobe and the Walk ‘em Boys performing. Admission is included with the purchase of a Ranch Rodeo ticket, so stick around and dance in the dirt.
With a ranch rodeo, men’s timed event long-go and three nights of PRCA rodeo action, there will be fun for all rodeo fans at this year’s NILE Stock Show and Rodeo. Tickets for any of these rodeo events can be purchased in advanced at www.thenile.org.