Stampede is a go

56th Annual C.M. Russell Stampede to proceed
By 
Melody Montgomery
Special to the News-Argus
Friday, June 12, 2020
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Stanford’s C.M. Russell Stampede Club decided, after in-depth conversations with the health department regarding COVID-19 considerations, to go ahead with the C.M. Russell Stampede, a two-day event, including a PRCA Rodeo, which will be Sunday, July 19.
Photo courtesy of Melody Montgomery

While many recurring events have been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, the 56th Annual C.M. Russell Stampede will proceed on July 18 and 19 in Stanford.
Last week at one of the largest Stampede Club meetings to date, members voted to go ahead with the event, after much deliberation and considering different points of view.
“It’s a way we can give something to the community when so much has been taken away [due to COVID-19],” said Stampede Club President Matt Neumann. “After much thought and receiving guidance, we decided we will do whatever is needed to ensure the event can safely happen.”
The 2020 two-day C.M. Russell Stampede will again include a PRCA rodeo, western barbecue and music fest, quick finish art show and auction, street dance, fun run, kids’ stick horse rodeo and more.
Presently, the Stampede Club is still working out details to align the event with re-opening guidelines. Some of the design could change if Montana is in Phase 3 at the time.
“We do not know yet exactly how it will look, but we do know that all health and safety protocols will be followed,” said Neumann.

A weighty decision
Proceeding with the event was not a decision the Club took lightly and also considered other communities. Cancelled rodeos include Red Lodge, Augusta, Belt, Great Falls and Lewistown, to list a handful.
The Stampede Club, like so many other communities, discussed concerns for their family, friends and others. However, they weighed this with how to incorporate social distancing guidelines. They also asked themselves what would happen if it did not proceed and the Club could not give back to the community.
“A big part of our decision came after conversations with our health department and other county officials, as well as other what other events have been doing and will be doing to follow guidelines in the near future,” Neumann said.

Honoring past members
Beyond the traditional rodeo dedication, which will be revealed at the Quick Finish, the club is also honoring two longtime C.M. Russell Stampede Club members who passed away this year – Harold Warehime and John “Doc” Gee.
Years back, Harold and Ramona Warehime owned and operated the Sundown Hotel in Stanford, where all the Stampede Club meetings were held. Harold also helped with the Stampede Club Open, a golf tournament that had been held twice a year in Harlowton.
Doc Gee was a well-respected and kind veterinarian in Stanford. He was also very involved in building the arena 54 years ago, and even competed in the first ever C.M. Russell Stampede PRCA Rodeo. Doc and other Jaycees and volunteers built the pens, bleachers and arena that year.
At the first rodeo, Doc won the bull riding. He later retired from the sport at “the ripe old age of 29,” he said in an interview with the “Judith Basin Press” in 2018.
Up until just last year, Doc kept the arena in excellent shape using his own tractor and tilling tools, according to the Stampede Club.

Quick Finish and Auction
Stampede Club Member Steve Urick has helped line up 17 artists for the Quick Finish, referred to as the Quick Draw in past years. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. on July 18.
Stampede President Neumann expects there to be greater spacing and fencing, plus less crowding around while watching the artists work, but he doesn’t foresee an issue.
“Most people are already so used to social distancing; we expect some to bring lawn chairs and follow spacing guidelines naturally,” said Neumann. “We also plan to implement spacing guidelines as well.”
 During the Quick Finish, the 17 artists are given 45 minutes to work on their pieces, including the framing of paintings. Artists can bring work they have already started on and polish it up in front of the audience, or they can start from scratch. Their work is then auctioned by Shobe Auction and Realty. The artists volunteer their travel time and are given a percentage of the proceeds.
Last year, the amount raised from the Quick Finish totaled $19,750.

Western Barbecue
Stampede Club Member Jason Oltrogee will head up the Western Barbecue for his second year, after being passed the reins by Dave McCray a couple years ago.
The barbecue crew will serve hand-made, fresh-ground hamburger patties and all-beef hot dogs. There will also be baked beans, coleslaw, and their famous kettle chips, which are fried in large kettles over an open flame.
More than likely, during 2020 to help distance people, the meals will be prepared to be handed out in their own containers, rather than buffet-style.

Music Festival
New this year to the C.M. Russell Stampede Music Festival, which will be held before the Quick Finish, will be music by Tris Munsick and the Innocents. The Innocents formed in 2012 and are based out of Sheridan, Wyoming. They play dance music and cover a wide variety of songs ranging from barroom standards to more creative original works.
Tris Munsick and the Innocents will headline the street dance downtown, hosted by the Waterhole Saloon and starting at 9 p.m.

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