My First Rodeo: Montana Fair

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Billings, Montana

North America is a gigantic land mass and so even within Canada the city of Calgary has a much different feeling than Halifax.

And while Canada borders Montana, the culture is much different than anything I have experienced.

Tonight was my first rodeo and a real introduction to the Midwest. After horseback riding through the country I was ready.

The event started off with a prayer and I have never seen people so proud to see their flag waving (well maybe comparable to watching the Canadian hockey team win the Olympics in Vancouver).


This is serious business.


Here 60% of the cowboys live off the winnings from rodeos. They aren’t cowboys on the weekend or Garth Brooks wannabes. They are professional athletes and this is their life.

Even speaking to the children growing up in this culture you realize that these events are really important to the family.



rodeo kids


For the older kids it is just as important. It seemed all the women wanted to look like Carrie Underwood with their best, tightest jeans, fresh make-up and sparkly shirts.

I felt under-dressed around some although others took it to such extreme with curls and back brushing they started to look like Honey Boo Boo.

But with the distinct scent of testosterone in the air I can’t really blame the girls. These events are pretty impressive. We watched team roping, calf roping, steer roping, and women competing in barrel racing.

I just bought a new camera and I was keen to use it, although I realized I should have spent a bit more time reading the manual because rodeos move quickly and everything came out blurry.
Montana rodeo

calf roping

horse bucking

Let’s call the photos…artistic.


My only complaint is while I was so excited to see the events, others had grown up with this so it was permissible to get up at any point in the rodeo, even when people were in mid-event.

I’m no Emily post but I think this is poor etiquette.  Every time I thought I had a good shot someone would stand in my way – most notably the two girls who blocked the last few seconds of this fantastic bull ride.


Disclosure: I was a guest of Visit Montana but they did not request that I write a favourable review but did buy me a candy apple afterwards to make up for the disappointment of not seeing the end of the bull ride.

Join the Conversation

  1. Great pics! I’m not a cowboy but worked for some time with many from Montana (I was in the custom belt buckle business). You nailed the culture pretty well. One thing: folks there would take exception to the Midwest moniker. It’s really either The West or Inter-Mountain West. As you correctly noted, there are many sub-cultures and the Midwest is indeed distinct from cowboy country. 🙂

  2. Annette | Bucket List Journey says:

    How cute is that little girls pink trimmed hat?
    I wouldn’t want to be one of the riders, but it would be fun to attend a rodeo!

  3. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    Looks like you got a good taste of the US…. we like our religion and our flag, are hard workers, and are completely oblivious to other people around us 🙂

  4. Chrystal McKay says:

    I want to meet Honey BooBoo Look-a-likes!! Great comparison. haha. And I won’t lie – I’ve always dreamed of meeting a nice southern boy – charms and cute-to-boot. haha. I would love to watch a real live rodeo and get the chance to talk to the riders – what a lifestyle!

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    What an experience! I just did NASCAR for the 1st time…

  6. Gosh, I don’t know if I can handle a rodeo. Did you find yourself screaming at certain points, like I would if I saw live what happened in the 7th photo?

  7. So fun!!! I remember my first rodeo. 🙂 My grandpa and great uncles were all cowboys on the Alberta prairies, so I grew up on cowboy stories. Love that you had this adventure but wish those girls would’ve stayed DOWN. 🙂

  8. I loved the post but have read too much about how animals are run scared by rodeos. Never been to one, and I never want to go. I just don’t feel comfortable forcing animals to be used for our entertainment. But I still lover your blog and reading this post 🙂

  9. Ummmm. love your blog, not lover.

  10. I’ve never been to a rodeo! Would love to check out Montana it looks so beautiful

  11. I love those portraits of the kids! What kind of camera did you get? I can’t believe I’ve never been to a rodeo even though I grew up in the southern United States

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