Range Riders host events, showcase history
Miles City, Mont. – On May 18-21, the 67th annual Miles City Bucking Horse Sale was held, drawing roughly 9,000 visitors to the area this year.
Amid the horse races, bronc events, concerts and sales, organizations around the city also host events for town visitors each year.
Bunny Miller, the curator for the Range Riders Museum of Miles City explains that their volunteers stayed busy with events and activities throughout the week.
According to Miller, the Range Riders Museum has been involved with the sale since the first event.
“The organization started in 1939 and our first building was built in 1942,” says Miller.
She continues, “At the turn of the century, the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale was called the Miles City Roundup.”
In 1950, the event changed into the bucking horse sale and was hosted in Miles City.
“The first bucking horse sale was held in Billings a year or two ahead of that, but then the men here in Miles City had a sale but it wasn’t advertised or anything,” she comments. “They had so many people stop in to watch the horses buck that the next year, they did some advertising and it morphed into what it is today.”
Miller explains that one of the major events that the Range Riders Museum hosts during the sale is a cowboy breakfast on Saturday morning.
“We have biscuits and gravy, hot cakes, sausage patties, scrambled eggs and, of course, juice and coffee,” she says.
After attendees have had their fill, they head over to the annual parade, where the museum features two items each year.
“The museum always has two items from our museum in the parade. One of them is a Model T car, and this year we also had a sheepwagon,” comments Miller.
New this year, the museum hosted the wagons and teams from the wagon train that is a part of the parade on the museum grounds.
“We had a lot of people stopping on the highway to look at it. They had teams within electric fences throughout the area down by the river,” she says.
The museum wraps up the day with a fiddler’s dance, featuring the Southeastern Montana Fiddlers.
“We have some of the people from the bucking horse sale will come over to dance to that. They have a street dance downtown, but that’s more for younger and middle-aged people,” comments Miller.
She explains, “This is an opportunity for middle-aged and older folks to have a place to go and come listen to music and dance if they choose.”
Not including their special events, Miller notes approximately 300 people tour the museum during the week of the sale, with that number growing every year.
“My husband and I have been curators here for seven years, and we’ve tried to make a few small changes such as more advertising,” says Miller.
“We have a Facebook page and a web page that gets the word out that we’re here,” she adds, noting that it has helped increase visitors both during the sale and throughout the year.
While the sale does host some activities on Thursday night, Miller explains most of the activities don’t begin until Friday evening, leaving visitors with a day to explore Miles City.
“People start to come into Miles City early, and they spend a week here,” she comments. “We have a lot of people who show up to see the museum on Friday.”
She continues, “It increases our count from the Tuesday before the actual sale to the Monday afterward.”
Miller explains the mission of the Range Riders Museum is to “preserve and protect the history of the people that settled here.”
She notes the museum offers a comprehensive view of many different demographics that were pivotal in shaping the West.
“A lot of museums focus on one thing and they don’t have much for the women. The women of the West are portrayed quite well here,” says Miller.
The museum facility is currently made up of 13 buildings, which Miller comments are “ceiling to floor full.”
A feature of the museum Miller appreciates is that everything for the museum, including money for the buildings, is donated.
“Everything in our museum has been donated, including the money to build the buildings. We do not get any city, county, state or federal money,” she says.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.