How to host a backyard rodeo party this summer

pulled from the pages of the July 2016 issue of Simply Family Magazine. Check out the digital edition, here!

photos by jana graham photography

Broncs snorting, bulls bellowing, calves bawling… or was that a child laughing? When it comes to rodeos, Montana is world class. When it comes to backyard parties, we rank right up there with the best of them. And when you combine rodeos and backyard children’s parties, it’s a match made in heaven. Or, made in Montana, which is pretty close!

From fun gingham cowboy décor to games of roping, stick horse barrel racing, bronc riding, and more, a backyard rodeo party might be just the ticket to celebrate your little buckaroo’s birthday or other special day this summer!

Much of the décor can be fetched from the dollar store, with fabric lengths of denim and gingham or paisley bandanas filling in the gap. Pull out the canning jars to assuage the thirst of your little wranglers with lemonade and sweet tea from milk can dispensers. The chuck wagon grub is rounded out with burgers and dogs on the grill, popcorn and chips in apple bushel baskets from the craft store, corn on the cob cooked in a cooler, and “fence post” veggie sticks with, of course, ranch dressing for dipping.

Put together a playlist of music to play over a speaker, beginning with, of course, the National Anthem and pledge of allegiance. Country music has a plethora of rodeo and cowboy songs; don’t forget to include at least a few by Wyoming’s favorite rodeo son, Chris Ledoux! Involve a Dad with a flair for exaggeration and excitement to act as Rodeo Announcer, and see if you can’t talk another one into dressing up like Flint Rasmussen as a photo-opp Rodeo Clown!

While belt buckles and cash prizes might exceed your backyard rodeo budget, you can find fun options for the “winners” at the dollar or party store. Send home a bag of favors in a little denim bag from the craft store, including a bandana, plastic horse or bull, sheriff’s stars, candies including old-fashioned starburst mints, “cow tails,” or root-beer candy barrels, and cow-printed balloons/pencils/erasers from Oriental Trading’s western-themed section online.

Rodeo fans of all ages will enjoy the festivities. Let ‘er buck!