TETON COUNTY - The local yearly 4th of July Rodeo serves as the Choteau American Legion’s primary fundraiser, which often donates most of its revenue towards good causes and organizations. Now that the event is officially canceled, some community members are raising money to help cover the costs that remain from the event’s early preparations.
For Choteau Resident Bev Yeager, the Legion’s charity work has gone a long way in helping her family.
“Myself and my children have been benefits of that, you know? My son received a scholarship when he graduated last year when he graduated through the American Legion,” Yeager explained.
As someone who organizes high school rodeos for the area, she says it wasn’t hard to put herself in the organization’s shoes.
“There’s expenses out there for the American Legion already, even though the rodeo didn’t happen,” said Yeager.
We met with Jerry Collins last week, a chairperson with the Choteau American Legion’s Rodeo Committee. The rodeo gets an average of $50,000 on any regular year, Collins said, with some of the change going towards preparatory work.
“Stock contractors cost money, advertising costs money,” he said.
So Yeager launched a bank account with Opportunity Bank in Choteau, and a GoFundMe page, with a goal of $15,000 to help cover some of those costs.
“There’s just so much out there that they do… I just wanted to help them recoup any financial loss they had so that they can continue doing that for the community,” she said.
Outside of scholarships, donations typically also go to veteran organizations, clubs, and the groups listed below:
- Boys Scouts
- Lions Club
- Benefis Teton Medical Center
- Food Banks
- K9 Care Montana
- Caring Tree
- Family, Career & Community Leaders of America
- Choteau Public Schools
- Teton Weatherbeater Arena
On behalf of the committee, Collins said they appreciate the local community for supporting the American Legion of Choteau.
Fundraising efforts come after the Teton County Board of Health voted no on hosting a rodeo, with over 30 public letters mentioning health and safety concerns. Some include the number of neighbors with a high risk for COVID-19, the possibility of going back into Phase 1 reopening status and the potential effects that could come with an increase in Coronavirus cases.
“We love rodeo and what it brings to all of us, but I fully understand where the board’s coming from. They have a tough job,” said Yeager.
“We really appreciate the [Choteau] American Legion for taking the time that they did to put together some very comprehensive plans. It was a really difficult decision for the board of health,” said Melissa Moyer, the county health department’s director.
While the rodeo’s a no go, the board did approve a mixer planned for July 3, with music, social distancing and a maximum of 300 guests.
If you’d like to make donations outside of the GoFundMe page, Yeager said you can write checks to the Choteau American Legion Post 6, or mail them to the address below:
P.O. Box 70