The Billings Outpost

Asleep at the Wheel at Roundup’s RIDE events

By WILBUR WOOD - For The Outpost

ROUNDUP – One year ago, floodwaters moved the annual RIDE celebration from the cottonwood-shaded fairgrounds along the Musselshell River to the City Park uptown.

RIDE – which stands for Roundup Independence Days Extravaganza – was created in 2005 as a performing arts and general cultural celebration to fill the hole left when the annual 3rd and 4th of July rodeo no longer could compete with larger and better funded rodeos in towns like Red Lodge and Cody, Wyo.

Nationally known country or country-rock crossover bands, supplemented by local and regional musical and theater performers – House of Quist (Rob Quist playing with his son and daughter) in 2010; a Billings-based, dance-inciting band in 2011 – along with art shows, poetry readings, magicians, games for kids and more – have characterized RIDE. 

This year the headliner is Asleep at the Wheel, a western swing band that has won nine Grammy awards and that RIDE has been trying to book for several years. After some opening acts (including local musicians Mike Morgan and Monty Sealey), Asleep at the Wheel will take the stage Tuesday evening, July 3, followed by one of the better kept secrets in our region, a fabulous fireworks show.

Main Street parades happen at 11 a.m. July 3 and 4 while for early risers on the Fourth the Roundup Arts and Culture Committee sponsors a 7 a.m. Birdwalk on RiverWalk Trail (south of Main Street) led by Bill Milton (bring binoculars, wear sensible shoes), then a 9 a.m. local history tour starting at the same place. These morning walks are free and open to the public.

Dancing encouraged

RIDE continues through Wednesday, July 4, on small and large stages (Jason Larson – “The Main Man” – is a perennial hit) inside a circle of vendors at Roundup City Park. At 6 p.m. comedian-magician Steve Hamilton opens the evening show, which culminates with a group called “the foremost Eagles tribute band” - Hotel California.

During all the musical performers, dancing is encouraged.

RIDE sells wristbands that let you in to all events on the 3rd and 4th, as well as into a Sunday, July 1, event at the Ridge Riders Arena (a few blocks north of City Park) where Cowboy Church at 9 a.m. will be followed by Buttons ’n’ Bows, a rodeo for kids from 3 to 18 year of age.

Wristbands cost $25 ($5 for children 3 to 12) and are available at the gate.  For more information go to

Art show on the river

Not all the action is happening at the City Park, however. Early on Tuesday, July 3, tents and various arbor-like constructions will begin to rise for Art on the RiverWalk, a showcase for 20 or more local and regional artisans and artisans, open to the public from 2:30-6:30 p.m. on July 3.

The show will feature an array of paintings, sculptures, photography, metal and glass work, as well as fine furnishings and decorations, imported African baskets and music by Andrea and Juliet Wilhelmi, two talented guitarists and singers with local roots (and wider reputations). For a $5 per plate donation you can sample tapas on ice, have a glass of wine, and mingle with artists and art lovers.

To get there, take the road to the Fairgrounds. From Main Street in Roundup follow Second Avenue East down the hill and keep going. The road will swing south toward a bridge. On the left is a campground called the Cowbelles Corral. On the right you’ll see the tents of the art show.

Fund-raiser for RiverWalk Trail

This event is sponsored by the aforementioned Roundup Arts and Culture Committee, which is part of the Musselshell Valley Community Foundation, and as such is eligible for tax-deductible contributions for its nonprofit activities. This art show, then, doubles as a fund-raiser for upcoming projects along the Roundup Heritage RiverWalk Trail.

The trail - initially created by Roundup Arts and Culture on city and county lands along the river - was awarded Montana Trail of the Year by the State Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department in 2010 – one year before it was severely damaged by the floods.

RiverWalk Trail, like the County Fairgrounds and other riparian sites, is also being revived with the help of federal money, but Arts and Culture partners with city and county governments in maintaining and improving the trail, and there are always ongoing expenses.


Bill Stockton, ‘The Two Gregs’

The list of participants is impressive. It includes well known artists like Bill Stockton of Grass Range, who died in 2002 but whose work will be exhibited, along with that of several other oil painters with regional or national reputations, including two known to local people as “the two Gregs” — Greg Eiselein and Gregory Wilhelmi.

Other painters from Roundup include Joe Trakimas, Dan Palagyi, Coila Evans, Wendy Lee Evans-Bumgarner and Troy Evans, the chief organizer of this show, more widely known for his skill at woodworking. The styles range from representational - landscapes and portraits – to abstract.

From Billings will come painter Tom Mulford and interior designer Jerry Lyon, of L-Design, with interior furnishings for the big tent. From Lavina, west up the Musselshell, will come George Ainslie, a blacksmith and metal artist, and photographer Mary Peters. Two other Roundup photographers, Dale Alger and Tim Crawford, will show work, and it is likely that master saddle maker Bill Allison, leatherworker Rowdy Demers and glass artists Gloria Mang and John Davis will be there as well.


The return of rodeo

A town named Roundup really ought to have a rodeo — an adult rodeo — and this year, with the fairgrounds sufficiently rehabilitated, a group of ranchers and others from up and down the Valley are sponsoring one, from 1-5 p.m. on July 3.

This rodeo is not a RIDE event, nor is it a Roundup Arts and Culture event, but it dovetails neatly with both. RIDE has no afternoon events on the Third and Art on the RiverWalk won’t open until 2:30 p.m. - when the rodeo will be in process across the river — and won’t close until an hour and a half after the rodeo has ended. This will allow rodeo fans to stop by, on their way back uptown for RIDE in City Park, and become for awhile fans of art.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing fires in the Roundup area, the rodeo has been canceled, and Art on the Riverwalk has been delayed until fall. Other events are expected to go on as scheduled.



Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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