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Chamber receives grant to promote Kootenai River Rodeo

| March 30, 2007 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

A $7,500 grant awarded to Libby Area Chamber of Commerce could mean more riders and spectators for this year's Kootenai River Rodeo.

The chamber will use the state tourism dollars to promote the July 27-28 Professional Cowboy Association Rodeo at J. Neils Memorial County Park to communities outside Libby.

The funding also will allow organizers to double the prize money for riders, said Louise Rice, executive director for the chamber.

"We were excited that we were one of those parties able to capitalize on those moneys," Rice said.

"I'm really excited about it," added chamber president David Friedman. "You can never bank on that stuff so we planned accordingly. Anything extra you get makes things that much better."

Montana Department of Commerce chose seven of 21 applicants for grants totaling $50,000. The money is from the Special Events Grant Program created to sustain economic development through annual on-going events sponsored by non-profit groups.

"They had a wonderful application," said Carol Crockett, tourism development specialist with the state Department of Commerce. "They made mention in the application about the logging industry and that they were looking for ways to supplement the economy."

Community sponsors and Dodge, represented locally by Timberline Auto Center, will help with this year's $53,000 rodeo budget, Rice said.

Rice has traditionally promoted the rodeo with advertising in The Western News, including its Summer Guide, and the Flathead Summer Guide in Kalispell. For this year, she also will advertise in Montana Magazine's rodeo-festival issue for May-June. Rice also is exploring advertising on radio and television stations in Kalispell and Missoula.

"I think it will attract more contestants, which in turn we will get more spectators," Rice said.

Last year's rodeo attracted 1,300 spectators each night.

The $3,000 budgeted for advertising before receiving the grant will be used to increase prize money.

"In the saddle broncs, bare backs and bull riding, we will all have $4,000 added to those events," Rice said. "In the past it was $2,000."

Other events include women's barrel racing, tie down roping, team roping and steer wrestling.