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Choteau celebrates Independence Day with 78th annual rodeo

Posted at 8:58 AM, Jul 05, 2024

CHOTEAU — This ain’t Choteau’s first rodeo.

In fact, Thursday marked the Choteau American Legion’s 78th Independence Day Rodeo.

“We come to Choteau every year,” said Joe George, a rodeo spectator from Belt. “It’s Americana at its finest. It just celebrates America. It’s in the fiber, old West. It’s part of who we are as a country.”

But George isn’t the only Montanan who has made Choteau’s rodeo part of his Independence Day tradition.

“It’s always a fun rodeo,” said Levi Hurst, a rodeo competitor from Kalispell. “Always a good crowd. Fun atmosphere. Yeah, just nice to be here on the Fourth.”

For Hurst, Thursday marked four straight years of competing in Choteau’s Independence Day Rodeo.

“It’s a cool place here,” continued Hurst. “It’s a beautiful arena. It’s nice how it’s down here in the river bottom. It just brings a great crowd every year. And they bring good horses. It’s just a fun deal all the way around for us.”

But in order to put on the rodeo, which brings in thousands of people to Choteau every Fourth of July, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. That’s where Jerry Collins, chair of Choteau’s rodeo committee for the past eight years, steps in.

“We rodeo a lot to celebrate the Western way of life,” said Collins. “And it’s such a historic thing in this community. And then being tied to the Legion too on the patriotic side of it ... so, we kind of marry those two together and make it work for everybody here, and it’s just a great time to be an American and free and all that stuff. It’s awesome.”