The Livingston Roundup Rodeo has a long and colorful history of its own, dating back to the “Roaring 20s,” when the event began. In October 1923, Livingston’s own Charlie Murphy was in charge of the stock at the Madison Square Garden Rodeo in New York City. On Labor Day of 1924, 28 heads of those top bucking horses were in Livingston and a rodeo had officially come to Park County. The Livingston Roundup really got going in 1925. The roundup was one of eight Class A rodeos in the nation and at the time had a purse of more than $3,000, or $41,095.89 in today’s dollars. The Livingston Roundup Rodeo continues that tradition with some of the finest rodeo action that the West has to offer, and some of the best rough stock in the country.
In 1929, farsighted Livingston businessmen established the Livingston Roundup Association, declaring that its purpose was “to give shows, rodeos, roundups, to hold riding contests, roping contests, bull-dogging contests, horse races and to give any and all other amusements in the City of Livingston or other places in the County of Park and any and all money or profit over and above any and all expense of the operation shall be used for the purpose of advertising the County of Park and for the purpose of beautifying the City of Livingston, Montana.”
Every year on July 2, 3 and 4, the Livingston Roundup Rodeo, a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association event, convenes nightly at 8:00 p.m. Top hands compete in saddle bronc, bareback, team roping, tie down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, and barrel racing. In 2016, the association ponied up $96,000 “added money” to attract contestants to Livingston. Along with contestant entry fees, the total purse is currently in excess of $200,000.
The rodeo consists of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie down roping, and barrel racing. The rough stock is where the rider has to stay on the animal for eight seconds -- which can seem like a long time for the rider. The riders have to do this without touching the animal with their free hand; if they touch the animal they are disqualified. The roping events are timed events where the fastest time wins as long as they do not break the barrier. If the barrier, which is a head start for the steer or calf, is broken, then the rider gets a 10-second penalty. Of course we must remember the pretty ladies on the horses rounding the barrels as fast as they can without tipping over a barrel to win some cash. Tipping over a barrel is a 10-second penalty.