Take part in the Roy’s 70th annual rodeo
Cowboys and cowgirls will head north to Roy this weekend to celebrate the 70th annual Roy Open Rodeo. The event is scheduled for Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, at 1 p.m.
This year there will be $500 purses added to bareback riding, bronc ranch riding, bronc saddle riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down rope, women’s breakaway rope, women’s barrel race and team rope. For Children’s Barrel Races (9-14 years old), Children’s Barrel Races 8 years and under, and Children’s Rope Escapes (14 years and under), $100 purses will be added.
Special events this year include a “top 5” and calcutta bronc saddle ride, ribbon rope dally, rope tying, women’s barrel race, and women’s and children’s lasso breakaway. The Calcutta Stringing and Barrel Racing Team Auction will be held Saturday, June 18 at 9 p.m. in downtown Roy.
A look back
The Roy Rodeo has been thriving since 1952. According to an article in the Lewistown Daily News on Tuesday, July 1, 1952, the first annual rodeo hosted by the Roy Rodeo Club sold out with nearly 2,000 people in attendance for the show. . There were 95 cowboys entered in the contest for various prizes amounting to over $1,000 (about $11,000 in 2022 dollars).
The first loop of the All-Round Cowboy Trophy was awarded to Albert Vermendal of Red Lodge, who won the calf-roping and wild-horse racing events.
During the second annual Roy Rodeo, in 1953, the Roy Rodeo Club erected new bleachers at the arena, located on the outskirts of Roy, to accommodate the large crowd.
The Monday, June 29, 1954, issue of the Lewistown Daily News reported that Roy’s third annual rodeo was temporarily interrupted when George Econonu of Billings was thrown from his horse during the bareback riding event and had to be carried emergency department at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lewistown. Hospital officials reported that Econonu suffered a back injury, but his condition was fair. Rodeo spectators collected a purse of $114 for the rider ($1,248 in 2022 dollars).
More than 60 competitors registered for the third annual rodeo events. Cal Morris was voted the best all-around cowboy after taking first place in the saddle bronc and bareback riding events. Along with the prize money, Morris received a pair of Acme boots, courtesy of Lewistown saddle and shoe store Tom Toomey. Wass Mercantile de Roy donated a pair of overalls to the winner of the wild horse race.
50 years celebrated in 2002
According to an article written by News-Argus editor Jay Acker in the June 19, 2002 edition of the Lewistown News-Argus, hundreds of competitors and spectators from across the state descended on Roy for a day of stringing, wrestling and riding.
The 50th annual event began with a team jackpot event held that Saturday at Roy’s CK Arena. There were an average of 45 competitors in the one-day event.
Sunday began with a parade and paid tribute to some of the original organizers of the first rodeo 50 years prior. The president of the first rodeo was Ed Styer. The judges were Joe Hood and Frank Kinney. Mary Siroky was one of the remaining organizers and waved as she rode around the rodeo grounds in a horse-drawn cart. Julia Jackson was the timekeeper for the 1952 rodeo.
At the end of the day, Bill Boyce received top honors for earning the most money and being the most versatile man. With a time of 6.36 seconds, Boyce placed first in the team roping with his partner from Billings, Brett Flemming. He finished fourth in calf roping with a time of 11.96 seconds and third in steer wrestling with a time of 8.33 seconds.
In an article by News-Argus contributing writer Tana Whitney in the same issue, Jim Rife, a local and one of the founding members of the Roy Rodeo Club, recounted an unlikely accident that happened at the start of the rodeo. .
“In a bronc riding event, a horse was thrashing and kicking so hard that it broke its leg,” Rife said. “Of course we had to shoot it.”
Another local member and founder, Bill Davis, spoke of a horse named Crybaby.
“A man bet $5 that no one could ride Crybaby,” Davis said. “When a cowboy rode a horse, he came to collect his money. When told he wasn’t going to be paid, the cowboy got angry and hit the man with the $5. Others quickly broke up the fight and the cowboy was paid off.
After 70 years, the annual Roy Open Rodeo is still going strong and will continue its long tradition of attracting cowboys, cowgirls and spectators for a day of roping and riding.