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Statewide Competition Comes Back To Kalispell

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KALISPELL -

With the Cinch Rodeo just barely in rear view, Kalispell is already revving up for another--the biggest in Montana.

It has not happened in thirty years and now, for at least the next two Junes, Kalispell will be hosting the Montana state high school rodeo finals at the Majestic Valley Arena. There is even talk of extending that agreement to a third year.

"Obviously we want it here as long as possible, but hopefully we can just put on a great event the two years and they want to come back," said Lisa Brown, the chairwoman of the Board for the Tourism Improvement District

For the five days of competition, kicking off June 3, riders who have risen to the top during the regular season that begins in Autumn, will compete for college scholarships and for a spot in the national competition in Wyoming. Only the top four in each category will move on to Wyoming.

"Hopefully these will be a lot of kids that'll be the future rodeo stars of tomorrow, going to Vegas years down the road," said Mark Pirrie, co-owner of Western Outdoor in downtown Kalispell.

The Kalispell chamber of commerce has lobbied for the finals to come to the Flathead for nearly two years. After hearing a proposal in August, the state high school rodeo board gave a preliminary thumbs up, that was confirmed after a site visit in September.

Given weather problems at past competitions, Kalispell's indoor venue had a definite advantage. Now the pressure is on in the Valley.

"I think all the time there's nerves of putting on a new event," said Brown.

Based on the event's turn-out, revenue, community support, and sponsors, Kalispell may just have the honor for several more years.

"I know I'll be there watching it a couple nights," said Pirrie.

The four thousand people estimated to come out from across the state will undoubtedly provide a running start for the 2014 and 2015 summer tourist seasons.

"Hopefully in the off time between performances--performances will be over several nights--hopefully during the day we'll see a boost in our activity here at the store," said Pirrie.

The national high school rodeo finals starts July 13, 2014.

Bozeman has hosted the state finals for the past five years.

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