Animal House

The spring rodeo at Montana State University.

Not unlike the reappearance of songbirds or the emergence of the tulips in Granny’s flowerbed, the annual Montana State University spring rodeo is a sure sign of the season. Intercollegiate cowboys and cowgirls from across the Big Sky Region converge on Bozeman for this annual National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) event. The Brick Breeden fieldhouse is resurrected for its intended purpose, and soft, fragrant dirt is once again smoothed out across the floor. Pickups and stock trailers jam the parking lot, a Copenhagen shortage ensues, and the steady presence of boots, jeans, and Stetsons serves to remind everyone that Bozeman is still a rough-and-ready, ropin’ rawhide Western town.

Many agree that rodeo competitions are the last stronghold of true American toughness and sportsmanship. Among the toughest and fastest are MSU’s own Bobcats. If past years are any indication, the bucking stock should prove to be snot blowin’, dirt kickin’ nasty. Although other college sports might get more room on the sports page—or the police reports—rodeo is by far the roughest, toughest, and most fun to watch. For more information, visit or