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All Around Hand
Unique all-around award symbolizes Helena rodeo
Helena, Mont. (July 18, 2017) – For the fourth year, the Last Chance Stampede and Fair in Helena, Montana will give a unique award to its all-around champion: a ring.
The custom-designed elk ivory ring valued at $2,699 includes 14 karat yellow gold with elk ivory. It features the outline of a royal bull elk head profile, carved and inlaid in gold. The words “Last Chance Stampede, Helena, MT, All-Around Champion” and the year are engraved on it.
It’s symbolic of Helena and Montana, said Mike Gurnett, chairman of the Last Chance Stampede committee. “The gold and wildlife are tied to this valley, the Elkhorn Mountains, and Helena being founded on a gold camp. It ties in perfectly here.”
It is also a way to make the Helena pro rodeo stand out among the 600 or so pro rodeos across the nation, and a way to entice cowboys to enter the rodeo, Gurnett said. “Cowboys win things like buckles and spurs, but nobody’s giving away rings. It’s like a Super Bowl ring. The only way you can get it is to win it.”
Jensen Jewelers in Helena has designed and donated the ring since the award began in 2014.
The first winner of the all-around was Luke Gee in 2014. The Stanford, Mont. cowboy competed in the steer wrestling and bull riding, and the all-around title and ring was extra special to him; his grandfather, John “Doc” Gee won the all-around title in Helena in the early days of the Last Chance Stampede. Gee, who had surgery on June 17 to fix a broken collarbone from riding a bull at the Reno, Nev., rodeo, hopes to be back to competition by July 27-29, when the Last Chance Stampede kicks off.
In 2015, the all-around title and ring went to Russell Cardoza, Terrebonne, Ore. (tie-down and team roping.) In 2016, it went to Hank Hollenbeck, Molt, Montana (tie-down, team roping and steer wrestling).
The all-around champion at a rodeo must win the most money in competition in two or more events; they do not need to win money in all of their events, but must win the most money of all competitors in multiple events.
The Last Chance Stampede and Fair runs July 27-29, and includes a Billy Currington concert on July 26 at 7:30 pm. Earl Wear and Haywire open for Currington. Three nights of rodeo are the evening entertainment July 27-29 at 7:30 pm each night. Tickets are available online at LastChanceStampede.com, at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds, and at the gate.
For more information visit the fairground’s website at LastChanceStampede.com or call 406.457.8516.