Chase Hawks rodeo

Joe Harper is matched with Morning Tea in the saddle bronc riding event at the Chase Hawks Roughstock Rodeo at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark on Dec. 21, 2019.

BILLINGS — The Chase Hawks Roughstock Rodeo has always attracted some of the top roughstock cowboys in the world.

They’ve been lured to the Metra and Magic City every December for the chance of a nice payday before Christmas, the opportunity to ride a top bucking bronc or bull, and to help raise funds for the Chase Hawks Memorial Association community crisis fund.

This year, there is a bit more at stake for cowboys. For the first time, the rodeo will be sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

In all, a purse of $75,000 will be up for grabs on Saturday, Dec. 18, at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark. Twenty riders will be entered in each of the three events — bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding — with a purse of $25,000 per event. The first-place winners will also receive a Montana Silversmiths belt buckle.

Money won at the rodeo will count towards the 2022 PRCA world standings.

“This is the first year sanctioned as a PRCA event, which is pretty big for us,” said Chase Hawks Memorial Association executive director Teddi Vogel. “Not only are we the richest roughstock rodeo in the country, but for us to be a part of the PRCA and give these boys a hand towards the 2022 PRCA season is a big deal for us.”

Vogel said that the rodeo is a fundraiser for the Chase Hawks community crisis fund.

“Every single dollar that is made at this rodeo, and every event Chase Hawks does, all proceeds go to our crisis fund, so we can provide grants to families in in need in the Billings area,” she said. “Every time they buy a ticket, or merchandise, it all goes straight to our crisis fund.”

The rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 18.

The rodeo is an invitational and some of the cowboys will have just competed at the National Finals Rodeo Dec. 2-11 in Las Vegas. Some of the bucking horses and bulls will also have been at the NFR or past year-end championship performances.

“Traditionally we have been an invitation-only rodeo and though we are aligned with the PRCA and doing things as a PRCA-sanctioned event, we are still able to invite the top and best in the world,” Vogel said. “And a lot of those guys have been here before and anxiously await to come back here again.

“A lot of these guys have been beat up for two weeks in Vegas. Do they want to get on one more critter? But, if they do, not only is it for charity, but it is helping them for next year. That’s encouragement for some of them wanting to make the trip to Montana right before Christmas.”

After the rodeo, at approximately 9:30 p.m., a concert featuring country artist Chancey Williams will be held. The cost to attend the concert is included in the rodeo ticket.

“We have to bring the stage in, build it, put all the instruments on it and jack it to the ceiling,” said Vogel. “It will be suspended up high enough that anyone in the arena can still see the full replay and action. … Once the last bull bucks out of the arena, we will lower that stage to the dirt. While that is coming down, we will award our buckles to the champions, we’ll do a sound check, and the concert will start at 9:30 (p.m.).”

NOTES: It will be the 26th annual rodeo the group has sponsored. Last year’s Chase Hawks Roughstock Rodeo was canceled because of the coronavirus crisis. … For tickets, visit the MetraPark box office or metrapark.com. … Vogel said a couple examples of where the crisis fund has been put to work includes helping a family with travel expenses if they have a sick child who needs treatment out-of-state, or if a disabled person needs funds to build an access ramp to their home. For information on the Chase Hawks Memorial Association, visit chasehawks.com .

Email Gazette Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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