LIVINGSTON, MT — Due to the pandemic, the community of Livingston lost their rodeo this year but those who organize that usually aren’t giving up.
They are now planning for one of the largest fireworks shows they say they’ve ever had.
“It was tough to cancel the rodeo,” says Bruce Becker, president of the Livingston Round-Up Association. “We had to make a tough decision.”
When it came to cutting nearly 100 years straight of Livingston rodeos short (2020’s would have been the 96th), Livingston Round-Up Association president Bruce Becker says it was a hard but necessary call.
But what about the three nights of fireworks shows?
“There’s been a lot of negativity about us cancelling the rodeo but again, based on what we knew at the time, I don’t think we had a choice,” Becker says. “We had to do something to protect the citizens from being exposed to the COVID virus.”
To Becker, the show couldn’t end in a fizzle.
...Especially after raising $19,000 for it.
“We have a fundraising event in February called the Boots n’ Buckles Ball specifically to provide fireworks for the rodeo,” Becker says.
Becker says unlike in years’ past when they’ve had three shows all set up at the nearby golf course, this year they’ll have one big show with fireworks launching near a quonset hut several yards away from the rodeo arena at the Park County Fairgrounds.
That way, the hope is that the entire town can see the show from their yards.
“We think it’s important to celebrate the Fourth of July,” Becker says. “We just can’t do it like we normally do because of the COVID problem.”
Becker adds socially distancing will remain at the highest priority, as long as the weather cooperates.
“As long as the wind stays under 20 miles an hour, we should have a show,” Becker says.
Becker expects there to be about $25,000 worth of fireworks to launch.
That’ll make for a show that lasts anywhere between 45 minutes to nearly an hour.
And while the gates normally restraining cowboys and their bucking broncos sit empty, Becker says that doesn’t mean the end of Livingston patriotism.
“We are the largest rodeo in the state of Montana, by purse,” Becker says. “We’re big time here in Livingston for a small town.”
The show is expected to start around 10:30 pm on July 4, but the Livingston Round-Up Association says it would be a good idea to find a good spot to see it at least 15 minutes in advance.