Home of the Champions

Coinciding with Red Lodge’s three day Independence day celebration is the annual “Home of the Champions Rodeo. Red Lodge is historically known for being home to some of the rodeo greats–and has hosted this particular show for 88 years.

The stands are packed with both locals and visitors for this home town rodeo.

Children and their parents, audience members young and old, gather here after purchasing fried oreos and “6 packs” of beer (conveniently packaged loosely in grocery bags) to witness cowboys get bucked off bulls and horses and rope cattle. There is banter between the announcer and the rodeo clown who performs stunts in between main events.

The rodeo clown jumps through a ring of fire on a car made out of a bathtub.
Cowboys attempt to quickly rope a calf.

Red Lodge’s rodeo is unique and clearly important to the community and draws participants from all over North America. An event that really has at least a little something for everyone(even if that’s just witnessing little kids ride around on sheep during mutton busting)–you really can’t go wrong with a good old fashioned western rodeo.

First Impressions – The Outskirts of Town

Being someone from a big city like Chicago with a population of approximately 2.7 million people I did not know what to expect in Ennis. Illinois has its fair share of small towns but I never really traveled to them before. From Bozeman, the drive is extremely scenic and up and down in elevation. Ennis is tucked away by mountains and when entering from the north there is a beautiful mountain range with snow capped mountains that can be seen in the distance to the west.

Coming in on route 287 looking to the west is the Gravelly Mountain Range

To the south, Ennis Lake and the perimeters of the town can be seen. Ennis lake was formed by the creation of the Ennis Dam on the Madison River. It has a very nice blue color and depending on the day can change colors.

Looking to the south on route 287 we can see Ennis Lake and the town in the distance
The Valley Garden Ranch. A privately owned property on the outskirts of Ennis.

Coming in closer to the town there is cattle, ranches, shops, schools and more. Ennis definitely has the small town feel. The buildings are more differential in style and there appears to be no real rhyme or reason to the organization of businesses, churches and more. Restaurants are in strange buildings that at one time served a different purpose.

Looking east there is the Madison Mountain Range with open fields in the foreground used for grazing cattle
The Madison Valley Storage facility right outside of town
KH Concrete also on the outskirts of Ennis

All in all the outskirts of the town at first were populated by ranches and cattle and as I became closer there were businesses, churches, restaurants and more beginning to fill the landscape. Some of the places had a run down appearance to them while others had a modern look creating a stark contrast of the change happening in the town.