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Rodeo shot

In addition to the regular bareback and saddle bronc contests, the top six NRA cowboys in each event also compete in Top Six contests at the 53rd Annual Helmville Rodeo on Sept. 3 and 4, with the Top Six Bareback on Sunday, Saddle Bronc on Monday. This is a file photo from a previous Helmville Rodeo.

The 53rd annual Helmville Labor Day weekend rodeo on Sunday and Monday, September 3-4, starts with a mini bull riding for kids 6-14 12:30 and rodeo at 1 p.m. both days.

Admission is $7 for adults; $3 for kids/under six are free. Helmville is on Highway 271, about 90 miles north of Butte.

There will be a team branding contest starting at 1 p.m. Saturday with 80 teams expected to compete. Admission for this event is free.

One achievement of this small ranching community north of Deer Lodge and the hard-working Rodeo Club is the newly restored historic grandstand, completed this month. At a town meeting last November residents were told the rodeo arena's 90-year-old wooden grandstand had deteriorated to a point where it was dangerous and a liability.

The community rejected the idea of demolishing it and building one of steel, but opted instead to restore the old one and keep it historically authentic. A  fundraising program began and through the generosity of rodeo fans, friends, neighbors and many others the historic grandstand underwent a complete restoration and the rodeo will go on as it has for more than 50 years.

Proclaimed the “biggest little rodeo in Montana,” the Helmville rodeo attracts more than 200 Northern Rodeo Association contestants who will compete against the Red Eye Rodeo livestock, as well as many local team ropers, barrel racers, mutton busters, steer riders and wild cow milkers.

In addition to the regular bareback and saddle bronc contests, the top six NRA cowboys in each event also compete in Top Six contests – Bareback on Sunday, Saddle bronc on Monday. Also on both days local ranchers will compete in the stock saddle bronc event.

Rodeo dances Saturday and Sunday night are a great place to meet some of the cowboys and to dance to the music Julie Bug of Missoula on Saturday at the Copper Queen and Lolo Creek Bank of Lolo at the community center on Sunday. Details: 406-793-5711

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