June 20, 2010: Father’s Day and Rodeo in Montana

I sent my son an e-card with a paypal transfer of funds of $5.  Super- Dad!  It seems even Las Vegas got hit pretty hard economically.

I got invited to go to a Montana rodeo!  My host had helped set up the pa system and bought me a hot dog.  We sat in the shade of the stands that were permanent while he pointed out the extra stands rolled in for the occasion.  While I looked at my program printed on each page with local advertisers, we talked about the parade through this small cowboy town of Wilsall. (Named after the developer’s kids, William and Sally.)  It has about 300 residents and they all know each other.  The parade’s theme was a celebration of the founding of the town 100 years ago.  Flatbed trucks sported wrapped boxes like birthday gifts and the dozen cupcakes were gals in puff fabric icing surrounding colorful cardboard cupcake cups and headgear of candles!  every other float or clown scattered candy to the parade watchers.  I got a pocket full of penny toffee.

We watched bareback bronc riding, calf roping, saddle broncs, barrel racing and bull riding. Meanwhile a big black cloud crept over us and suddenly let loose with a downpour.  The arena staff had brought their long yellow slickers,  but we were in our shirtsleeves.  The contestants had paid their ten dollars so they rode and roped through the rain.

Then it started to hail!  It started slow, but built up to a punishing windstorm pounding relentlessly for over five minutes.

Sudden lightning and instant thunder lit up the sky behind the speakers booth!  The base of the lightning flamed red as whatever it hit was consumed.  Someone had it on film and by evening it was on the TV News.  Four of the bull riders made a heroic show out of the gates in that mess, but none stayed on longer than a few seconds.  The last man did a ‘no-show’ and the bull was released without a rider.  I’ve got to hand it to the clown wearing short jeans and a bunch of bandanas waving in the wind from his belt, who kept at his post doing what was necessary to protect the fallen riders from hoof and horn.

My host asked me to stay in the stands while he ran home( We had walked the six blocks) to get parkas and a pro-stapler to protect the speaker gear overnight. (They were already protected with taped on black plastic bags.)

I had a lonely spell as the last person in the stands watching families pack up lawn chairs after tipping puddles of  water out of the seats, drenched quilts tossed in the back of pick ups, and one umbrella blown inside out. And sleeping babies protected by Father’s Day Dad’s cowboy hats and ponchos.

Finally all I could hear besides the driving rain was the sad mooing of the cattle as they were loaded in long trailers and driven slowly back to their owner’s ranches.

It was the most exciting cowgirl experience I could ever have hoped for at 62.  My first gosh-durn all-fired rodeo lit up with lightning, and celebrated with a thunder-clap!  Happy 100th, Wilsall!  Happy 60th, dear friend!

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1 comment so far

  1. Su-sieee! Mac on

    Now that’s what I call a fun adventure–rain, lightening, and all. You’ve gotten me in the mood to head down to see the horse parade later this week to start the Rodeo weekend in my town. Yi-haw!


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