Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Krista Fahlgren
PCN Editor 

RCAN finishes up an amazing year!


January 6, 2021

Madison McDonald Thomas performs a stunt during a clinic held last Sunday at the Milk River Pavilion. Photo by Lynne's Line Photography.

A year ago this week, the Phillips County News quoted Katie Brown, "We want to give back to our community and showcase our heritage, and any profit that is made will go back towards RCAN so we can work towards agricultural and community issues, Brown said. "We want to keep Ag alive and make sure we show our next generation that it is worth fighting for."

Brown, President of the Rural Communities & Agricultural Neighbors (RCAN), and her team of committee members and volunteers have certainly done that and more in the last 12 months. Last January, the story was on RCAN's first Ranch Rodeo Scramble, and this weekend they hosted the Finals: three days of non-stop good old-fashioned family fun.

Along the way, they organized and hosted nine sanctioned rodeos, which combined, paid out around $22,500 in expenses that went right back into rural communities. That number does not even reflect the money spent locally at restaurants, gas stations, or downtown businesses.

Although the numbers weren't quite in by press time, RCAN had projected that the Finals could bring in as much as another $15,000 into the community, and according to one fan, the crowd was even bigger than anticipated.

Friday's Rough Stock events featured Steer Riding, Ranch Bronc, Saddle Bronc, and Bull riding competitions. Of course, those events paled in comparison to the real excitement of the Mutton Bustin' competition, where the next generation of cowboys and cowgirls showed everyone how it's done.

Saturday afternoon and evening saw the Finals Rodeo, which featured the incredible and awe-inspiring trick-riding talents of Madison MacDonald Thomas, who presented the flag and left the crowd's jaws on the floor.

"It was so amazing, we were all so shocked by what she was doing, I wished she would have done it twice. You just couldn't believe your eyes the first time around. Everyone went wild!" said one spectator, who wished to remain nameless (it was Lynne).

McDonald Thomas has had an incredible 21-year career as a trick-rider, which is pretty impressive considering that she is only 27 years old. The Canadian born MacDonald, who now resides in Helena, is a nine-time NFR Contract Act, and a three-time PRCA Dress Actor of the Year nominee. She is a WPRA barrel racer, horse trainer, team roper, equine stunt woman (you've seen her on the television series "Heartland"), and clinician. She travels and performs non-stop for six months out of the year, but she also spends much of her time teaching her skills and searching for the next trick-riding star.

The young women of Phillips County had their chance to learn from the best on Sunday when McDonald Thomas held two skills clinics. From what I saw, the girls learned an amazing amount and showed an incredible amount of grit and guts while doing it (not to mention core strength and agility). Billie Sky Ozark felt the same. "The things that she taught those girls in such a short time were simply awe-inspiring. They were doing tricks I would never imagine them doing that day! Madison had had them focused and giving their best the whole time. The girls came away with a new love for trick riding. I am sure we will have a lot of "tricks" happening in the pasture moving cows now!"

The winners of Friday's Rough Stock events are as follows:

Kesi Salveson was the champion Mutton Buster, with Whit Ozark placing second, and third place going to Calvin Brown. Landyn Maassen took first in steer riding, and Sam Phipps came out ahead with 74 points in Ranch Broncs, followed by Reilly Weigand with 70 and Tanner Solberg with 67 points. With a top score of 73, Andrew Evjene took 1st Place in Saddle Broncs, and Cole Wagner got the top score in Bull riding with an 81, while Tjay Allen and Caden Fitzpatrick followed with scores of 77 each.

On Saturday, the top prize in the Women's side pot went to the "Saddlebags" (Tyra Warren, Georgie Orahood, Jessie Orahood, and Carli Simanton) with a time of 05:09.78. With a combined long go and short go time of 06:31.02, the "Alfalfa Desperados" (Josh Harmon, Dakota Schweers, Austin McKay, and Bill Fields) took away the big prize.

Judges unanimously voted for Garrett Severe and his horse to receive the Top Horse Award, and the Top Hand Buckle, in memory of the late Clyde Robinson, went to Dakota Schweers, and presented by Jim Robinson.

Katie and RCAN want to express their gratitude to everyone who made it all happen, from the sponsors and the stock contractors, the volunteers in the bird's nest and behind the scenes, and especially the EMTs. I think Billie Sky Ozark summed up the mutual appreciation: "We are so lucky to have RCAN. Katie and the crew do a fantastic job with every event. We appreciate all the time, hard work, and heart they put into every event. Our rodeo and ranching friends have become family, we really feel like we are all in this together to keep our way of life alive and well."


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