BIG SKY – Built around one of the nation’s largest ski resorts, Big Sky isn’t a traditional rodeo town. But this past weekend, the Big Sky PBR dusted this skiville with a Western culture that at its core shares the same foundation that holds Big Sky together: community.
On the second evening of this three-day PBR event, thousands of people were suspended in a moment of shared adrenaline as the event quickly changed course. A bull escaped from a gate behind the chutes, and every cowboy, firefighter and law enforcement agent in the Big Sky Events Arena saddled nearby horses and jumped into trucks to wrangle the loose stock.
Bull riders Dakota Louis and Eli Vastbinder joined longtime cowboy and former Montana State University Rodeo Head Coach Andy Bolich in pursuit of the bull down the main streets of Big Sky. After it was caught, the three rode back into the arena on horses and Louis tossed his hat into the stands, where the crowd erupted.
“That’s cowboy stuff right there, people,” said Flint Rasmussen, renowned PBR entertainer and longtime staple of the 11-years-running Big Sky event.
Indeed, it was a display of true Western life, but it also resembled the sense of neighborliness embedded in the Big Sky PBR as well as Big Sky itself. Certainly more than a rowdy event and a chance to dust off cowboy boots each year, the consistently sold-out three nights of bull riding and now week chock-full of events leading up to it is about community. It’s about family.
During night three, at the contestant’s pre-event meeting behind the arena, Outlaw Partners founder and chairman Eric Ladd addressed a circle of riders and crew members and thanked them for looking out for his community. He then told them the story he would that night relate to the crowd: How the Big Sky PBR, born from awe of the cowboy and a big dream, has created a family.