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“Best Small Town Throwdown Rodeo” Documentary

Captures the Spirit of Idaho

By Barb Law Shelley

What happens when a volunteer-run, small town rodeo loses its home of 17 years? Do the founders give up and let it die? Not if it is the Eagle Rodeo. Hearkening to the major cattle ranches that homesteaded and built southwest Idaho, Tracy Baggerly, who had built the Eagle rodeo into a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned event, rallied 60 volunteers to do the impossible.

Exhibiting unbelievable optimism and tolerance for backbreaking work, Tracy and his volunteers, worked steadily for a year to find a new location eight miles away, contract with sponsors, remove rocks, break up stone-hard ground, haul and manipulate tons of dirt, sand, and topical soils, and assemble bleachers, chutes, corrals, hookups, refreshment stands and VIP tents. Don’t forget the outreach to the animal handlers, veterinarians, cowboys, cowgirls, caterers, and the many people who make the rodeo event happen, oh, and advertising the new location so that the event might hopefully draw a crowd—all of this in only one year.  

“When I heard that the land use lease was up, and the crew planned to move the entire rodeo in time for the following year’s event,” remembers filmmaker Hope Manna when she attended the 2017 Eagle Rodeo—her first small town rodeo, “I knew it had the drama and story depth to make a fascinating documentary.”

Would they be able to pull it off? Would the public support the location change? Would competitors sign up?

Under Hope’s direction, the documentary, “Best Small Town Throwdown Rodeo,” was shot entirely outdoors, in fickle weather, in often muddy conditions that would sink a tractor to its axels while volunteers worked in mud up to their calves to free it. 

“There is no do-over in documentaries,” Hope laughs. “It was the first time I have ever filmed against wind, rain, horses, bulls, tractors, crowds and blasting music. It was the most fun I have had on set!”

An east coast, city girl most recently from California, Hope is an accomplished writer, director, producer and founder of Hanover Park Entertainment, an entertainment marketing company, who relocated to Eagle in 2010 and co-owns specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room, Olive and Vyne.

Co-owner and documentary co-producer, Kellie Allred, is an Idaho small town girl who worked and excelled in the entertainment industry and now lives in Eagle. She is no stranger to rodeos for her mother was a rodeo princess, her aunt a rodeo queen, and her family believes in the western way of life. Hope and Kellie sought local talent to collect drone images, provide music and narrate an exciting documentary that in real time captures the unlikely moving of a rodeo arena and culminates in the 2018 rodeo event. They shot the footage in and around their schedules at their store.

Just as the rodeo competitors put it all on the line for this most difficult of all sports, the documentary also “throws down” as it records the drama of this story and provides an insider’s look at rodeo life. It’s a story best told in documentary format, because at a rodeo, anything can happen.

“The Idaho way is to lend a hand. It’s one of the things I love about this community,” enthuses Hope. “I believe the documentary shows the nerve and confidence it takes to move a rodeo in a year, organize the rodeo, work the rodeo, and provide three days of exciting competition. The story is the embodiment of the Idaho spirit.”

Kellie who has produced and directed hundreds of documentaries, adds that this story has many arcs. “Moving a rodeo from point A to point B, the nuts and bolts, behind the scenes, and then staging three days of intense but wholesome family entertainment. It’s their life. The audience can embrace and live the western tradition through the volunteers and competitors.”

In the early years of Idaho settlement, the state had massive cattle operations that eventually inspired today’s rodeo events that are based on crucial ranching skills.

“Rodeos are about our Idaho heritage, our passion for preserving the western lifestyle,” asserts Tracy Baggerly, Eagle Rodeo president and founder. “As more people relocate to Idaho, there is risk that the western way of life will be forgotten. Our volunteers are raising their families with the old west values of hard work, determination, and integrity. Preserving the lifestyle is why we are so dedicated to the Eagle Rodeo.”

In its new location, the 2018 Eagle Rodeo drew a crowd of 12,000 people over three days, but what will the June 6–8, 2019 rodeo bring?

The “Best Small Town Throwdown Rodeo” world premiere will be June 2 at the Boise Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main Street. Following the screening, many of the key players will be on stage for a Q and A. To purchase tickets, visit www.bestsmalltownthrowdownrodeo.com

Facebook and Instagram: bestsmalltownthrowdownrodeo

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