WOLF POINT, Mont. — Cowboys lined the metal chutes that released bucking horses and their riders into the arena, Miss Rodeo Montana signed autographs for fans, and coronavirus warning signs ended with “Face mask usage is of personal choice.”
Most of the rodeo riders and audience at the Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede appeared to skip masks, despite public health recommendations and increasing pressure to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases spiking across Montana and much of the U.S.
“A lot of people, they’re trying to get back to life as normal,” said stampede competitor Dillon McPherson, from Wolf Point. “Having the rodeo is important to life as normal, or as close as it can be.”
Rodeos are a summertime staple across the West, but the pandemic has presented a dilemma for cities and towns dependent on the economic and cultural boost the events give.
A smaller crowd than in