The Seventh Annual Bitterroot Cowboy Ball will shake the fairgrounds this Saturday, Feb. 10, as a dinner, dance, and auction fundraiser for rodeo grounds improvements.

Cryss Anderson, Ravalli County Fairgrounds manager, said the event helps promote the greatest sport of the west.

“This is our signature fundraising event, and we really love being able to share the evening with our supporters,” Anderson said. “It is a great opportunity for folks to come out, and have a fun evening playing our games, making new friends, wearing holes in their boots on the dance floor and watching kids run around like wild buckaroos.”

Teresa Roberts, Rockin’ RC Rodeo Committee member, said they designed the ball as a fundraiser and event for the whole family.

“We wanted a way to say thank you to the community and to have an event that everyone can come to,” Roberts said. “We wanted families to come, bring their little ones, grandma, grandpa, and everybody be together as a community. We wanted folks to eat dinner together if they wanted to and enjoy, dance, and come together. We’ve been so blessed with everyone saying ‘This is so amazing.’”

Roberts said all the money raised goes to the rodeo grounds for improvements.

“We’ve been able to do amazing improvements and the first one was to build those sky boxes,” she said. “In turn, those help us generate revenue as we rent those out for all events. That is one reason we’ve been able to do unique improvements.”

The Rodeo Grounds enhancements included dirt, grounds, arena fencing, and refinishing the inside of the sky boxes; improving stall barns; and upgrades of stereo system for grandstands.

Last year, the Ravalli County Fairgrounds was able to complete the final phase of its state-of-the-art arena sound system upgrades to the tune of about $20,000.

“That upgrade was amazing,” Roberts said. “This year at the fair everyone kept saying ‘We can hear everything.’”

They also were able to construct a picnic pavilion near the rodeo office and concession building.

Roberts said they would like to add running water to the concessions area.

“It will take a big chunk of funding to get that up and running,” she said. “We’ll have to bring in water, sewer, and electrical for that. The new pavilion provides shade. The hope is to expand the whole back area and make a wonderful place for the community.”

Roberts said they do not have plans drawn up, are developing ideas, and will use the funds from the ball this year to build up the reserves to take on another major project.

“We’d love to have a medic room, but this year it is all about saying thank you,” she said. “The Rodeo Committee is just so grateful that the community supported the Bitterroot Cowboy Ball and the Rodeo Grounds for seven years now. We’re focusing on having more fun, getting together, thanking the community, and putting the future out there for the kids.”

Anderson said the highlight of their accomplishments last year was achieving the highest accolade from the Northern Rodeo Association — Platinum Rodeo of the Year.

“This is a contestant-driven award, and we were thrilled to have been recognized for our hard work and high standards of producing an amazing rodeo,” Anderson said.

In the five years that she has been with the fairgrounds, this was the year that she saw the most folks in the grandstands each night, including record breaking attendance for the Wednesday Ranch Rodeo.

“Although our Ranch Rodeo is not a sanctioned event, we see it growing each year and gaining popularity within our community,” Anderson said. ”Having a rodeo each night of the annual county fair is a huge driver for our fair gates, because there is not an additional fee associated with the nightly arena performances.”

The Bitterroot Cowboy Ball fundraiser allows the fairgrounds to make improvements to the rodeo grounds, while allowing the money in the general fund to be focused on deferred maintenance issues and operating costs throughout the year on the expansive grounds. The Fair Commission’s goal is to make the fairground facilities appealing to the variety of groups who rent out the buildings and grounds all year long.

“The Rockin’ RC Rodeo Committee is dedicated to continuing on with the tradition of excellence and promoting the greatest sport of the west,” Anderson said.

The Bitterroot Cowboy Ball will have a wine pull, a Wheel of Fortune game to win prizes, a feed bucket raffle, calf pie bingo, live auction, and a little kissing booth where folks can come and smooch the pooch that will be offered at the live auction.

Other live auction items include a guided fishing trip, Bucking Stock naming rights, an evening in the sky boxes for the rodeo, a winter fun package, a cabin stay for a week in Nye, Montana, a Double H Hat Company hat, and the ever popular “dessert of the month” package.

Anderson said that after the live auction the band, 406, will get the party started with some dancing tunes.

Tickets to the Bitterroot Cowboy Ball cost $10 and can be purchased at the door, or in advance from the fair office.

“We encourage people to gather up their friends, and purchase a table, for guaranteed seating,” Anderson said.

Tables are $50 for Sweetheart Tables for two, or $150 for eight people; call 363-3411 to reserve premium seating. Tables include drink tokens, which can be redeemed at the bar during the event. The Rainbow Bar will be serving drinks, and folks can also purchase their supper from Smokin’ Pup BBQ for $8 to $12.

The Bitterroot Cowboy Ball will be held 5:30 p.m. to midnight, on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds.