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Rough Riders

Flathead River Rodeo brings top competitors to Polson

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The Flathead River Rodeo came back to town for another three days of rodeo action at the Polson fairgrounds Aug. 24-26.

Gates opened Thursday for the first night of action. “Rodeo is a part of the history of the United States,” said Smiley Kittson, whose family has been part of rodeo action for generations. 

Kayla Wickum, a breakaway roper, agreed that rodeo is important to many families. She’s been breaking horses and attending rodeos with her family since she was a kid. Participating in rodeo was a natural progression.

Danger is also a part of rodeo’s legacy. One bareback rider got hung up on their horse and people jumped in quickly to help. Kittson said about eight cowboys came from the chutes and grabbed the horse. “There were even a couple people in the stands who jumped the fence to grab the horse,” Kittson added. 

Animals too have a long history with rodeo and some during last weekend’s event traveled many miles to participate. Kayla Wickum’s horse Tumbleweed, who is trained in calf roping, came from Oklahoma. 

Contractors also brought in bucking broncs and bulls. Kittson said the animals are very valuable, and despite the sometimes rough competition, no one wants the animals to get hurt. Safety for rodeo participants is also extremely important, so emergency medical services were on hand to respond. Rachel Shoemaker, an EMS responder, said: “The fact we haven’t had to haul anybody to the hospital says that (the event) was successful.” 

In addition to keeping an eye out for needed assistance, Shoemaker also enjoyed watching the rodeo. “It’s just fun to watch these guys who are daredevils tempting fate.” 

Full results for the Indian National Finals Rodeo qualifier can be found on the Flathead River Rodeo Facebook page.

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