The Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena has been renamed to “Cool Alley” in honor of a world champion bucking horse.
Cool Alley was a 1,600 pound mare owned and raised by the Kesler Family of Helena. She had a multitude of performances both at the Last Chance Stampede and on the national stage.
“Helena should become the first rodeo arena in Montana, maybe across the nation, to have a named arena after a horse,” said Phil Porrini, Fair Board chairman. “The name helps mark Helena as a place of historical significance for rodeo.”
Cool Alley held a combined 5 world tiles as PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year and PRCA Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year.
In 2003, Billy Etbauer set the arena record at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Cool Alley with a 93 point ride. He repeated the performance in 2004 on Cool Alley again with another 93.
That record ride still stands.
Rodeo Committee Chairman Mike Gurnett said the change to the arena is a fitting tribute to all rough stock, and a way to show what rodeo means in Helena.
“We felt that it was a way that when contestants come to our rodeo that we are honoring the traditions, the values, the culture of professional rodeo by honoring such a spectacular animal,” said Gurnett. “We want contestants to view ‘Cool Alley’ in Helena as hallowed ground of those that came before them.”
The name change was unanimously approved by the Lewis and Clark County Commission on Tuesday, and will be a featured component of the 60th anniversary celebration of the Last Chance Stampede in 2020.
The Fairgrounds has already been pledged $1,500 for new signage for the area.