GREAT FALLS — On Monday, the Teton County Health Board denied a proposal from the Choteau Rodeo Committee to host the 75th annual American Legion rodeo on Independence Day due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We were disappointed after the vote,” said committee chairman Jerry Collins. “Whether I agree with it or not, I can understand where they came from as far as community health.”
And while it’s disappointing for rodeo fans, it’s potentially devastating for the Choteau community. The rodeo is the primary fundraiser for the American Legion Post 6, and without proceeds from the event they won’t be able to support many community causes.
The ripple effects of the cancelation will prevent Post 6 from annual donations to veterans organizations, Boys Scouts, Lions Club, Benefis Teton Medical Center, food banks, K9 Care Montana, Caring Tree, FCCLA, Choteau Public Schools, Teton Weatherbeater Arena, and other youth and community groups and projects.
“A lot of the children’s stuff there, and kids’ stuff here in Choteau. We may not be able to help them out anymore with what we’re going to do,” Collins said. “If we don’t have a fundraiser at all this year, we’re going to be hurting for a lot of the donations and a lot of the philanthropy on a yearly basis.”
Collins said that some community members in Choteau are in the process of setting up a bank account and a GoFundMe page to help the Legion raise funds to continue serving Teton County.
“The community of Choteau is doing a great job of coming together behind community organizations that host events to raise money for their operating budgets,” Collins said. “Normally these people would by a ticket to the rodeo, but these people are still coming together and supporting us through donations. And we appreciate that more than anybody can understand."
He continued: "That’s going to give us an operating budget to keep doing the good in the community that we have done for years.”