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Flathead River Rodeo rides through the elements last weekend

By Lailani Upham

Pick-up men work quickly to round up the stock on Saturday evening while Danger Dave entertains the crowd in the background with silly off-the-wall gestures and quick-witted remarks of participants and audience individuals. (Lailani Upham photo) Pick-up men work quickly to round up the stock on Saturday evening while Danger Dave entertains the crowd in the background with silly off-the-wall gestures and quick-witted remarks of participants and audience individuals. (Lailani Upham photo)

POLSON — It felt like football game weather, rather than a summer rodeo climate at the 3rd Annual Flathead River Rodeo – but, that did not stop the crowd gathering by the hundreds to cheer on the contestants and hang in there until the last song this past weekend.

This year had a couple new items on the entertainment agenda.

Each year the rodeo grows in attraction. The crowd grows and the talk spreads.

The Mission Valley Honor Guard are called upon each year to post colors each night at the Flathead River Rodeo. (Lailani Upham photo) The Mission Valley Honor Guard are called upon each year to post colors each night at the Flathead River Rodeo. (Lailani Upham photo)

Word around Indian Country and beyond is this is the place to be for INFR action family fun.

The Junior Roper Championships or Junior Looper roping competition for both boys and girls in the three age groups – six and under; seven – nine; and ten to 12; had a chance to hang horns on a dummy calf through out the three day rodeo event.

Part of the reason for the junior competition is to keep kids thinking on the track of wanting to be a cowboy, according to Billie Bray of Classic Rope, coordinator of the Junior Roper Championships at the Indian National Finals Rodeo.

A young one lasso’s a red bull at the Junior Classic Dummy Roping event set up behind the corrals. Casey Cummings, from Cross headed up the Polson kids. This event travels across the country to professional rodeos to inspire kids in a work ethic that is positive. (Lailani Upham photo) A young one lasso’s a red bull at the Junior Classic Dummy Roping event set up behind the corrals. Casey Cummings, from Cross headed up the Polson kids. This event travels across the country to professional rodeos to inspire kids in a work ethic that is positive. (Lailani Upham photo)

“If you step back and look at a couple of things that Indian kids do and do well - its shoot baskets and dummy roping. And that’s what makes this contest of skill for the youngsters work. All the pros we endorse, they all come and help run the championship. The whole thing is positive and it’s amazing to see how it can change these kids and inspire them to do the right thing. They get to see positives like the fact that a work ethic is necessary to become a winner,” stated Bray.

Last call for bull riders.  The last ride of the Flathead River Rodeo INFR 2014 where a cowboy takes a shot at the big money. However, there were no riders to qualify. (Lailani Upham photo) Last call for bull riders. The last ride of the Flathead River Rodeo INFR 2014 where a cowboy takes a shot at the big money. However, there were no riders to qualify. (Lailani Upham photo)

Bray’s company has been sponsoring the Las Vegas INFR for four years and she said she wanted to do more to help the INFR grow rodeo activates for kids and families to relate to.

Fellow Montanan and noted name in the rodeo world Casey Cummings helped out at the Polson INFR and other locations this year.

“Dummy roping is a good place to start,” says Cummings who started out at three years old. “It’s like practicing in any sport – you don’t just jump on a horse and start roping – this helps improve form and accuracy and gives kids a competitive edge before they move on.”

Marty Eagle Feathers, Two Eagle River School staff is captured feeding the bulls. (Lailani Upham photo) Marty Eagle Feathers, Two Eagle River School staff is captured feeding the bulls. (Lailani Upham photo)

The sponsors donated ropes and caps for the kids in the event.

This year’s Flathead River INFR Tour Rodeo Champions were:
   • Bareback - Justin Randle
   • Calf Roping - Chad Johnson
   • Steer Wrestling - Nolan Conway
   • Saddle Bronc - Jay • Longbrake and Phillip Whiteman
   • Ladies Barrels - Danna Whitford
   • Team Roping - Scott Rogers and Leo Ramone
   • Ladies Breakaway - Justine Doka
   • Bull Riding - Hernold John
   • All Around - Scott Rogers and Katelyn Conway

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