Subscribe for 33¢ / day

No need to look any further than right here in the Bitterroot Valley for an entertaining Fourth of July weekend celebration.

Glory Days roars back into the Ravalli County Fairgrounds on July 1-2 for a weekend full of fun and entertainment for the whole family. The Senior Pro Rodeo will also be held in the fairgrounds arena both nights.

"We live in a great community," said fairgrounds manager Deb Rogala. "And I think celebrating together as a community, and actually enjoying the day and the time we take around holidays, is really important."

Friday's festivities kick off bright and early with the slack rodeo at 8 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m. in the arena. It is free for the public.

"Rodeos get more contestants than they can fit in a two-hour performance," Rogala explained. "(Slack) is what they do with the additional pool of contestants."

A Fourth of July parade, put on by the Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce, through Hamilton starts at 3 p.m.

After the parade finishes, a handful of contests will be held at the First Interstate Center at the fairgrounds. Contests include best-ofs for patriotic costumes, patriotic bikes, buggy or wagon and horse, as well as a rib-eating contest.

Winners of the contests are in the running for a number of prizes such as cash, carnival passes, fair tickets and local gift certificates.

Friday night, for three hours leading up to the rodeo, the First Interstate Center will host cowboy cocktails.

The Senior Pro Rodeo begins at 7 p.m. A small number of "Behind the Chutes" tickets for the rodeo will be available. For $25, ticket holders will receive 20-minute tours of the back side of the rodeo arena.

"They'll get to talk with the cowboys about how they do what they do," Rogala said.

The special tickets also get holders a cocktail coupon, a ticket to the rodeo and VIP seating for the night's events. There are 20 tickets available for each of the four tours.

Saturday gets started the same way as Friday, with the slack rodeo running from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the arena.

From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day is bursting with fun family activities. Attendants can try their luck at another crop of contests that include watermelon eating, bubble gum chewing, guessing games, best hats and best beards.

Kids of all ages are invited to submit posters for the patriotic poster contest. Posters can be any size, up to 28-by-22. Rogala asks that no names be printed on the front of the art, instead written on the back with phone numbers. Posters must be submitted to the fair office by Wednesday, June 29.

Saturday evening will again feature cowboy cocktails, the Senior Pro Rodeo and the "Behind the Chutes" tours.

And in true Fourth of July fashion, the Ravalli County Museum will have a display paying tribute to the troops with photos, memorabilia and medals.

"It was a great addition last year, Rogala said. "That's who we owe Independence Day to."

Last year was the inaugural Glory Days and Rogala said it was a great success.

"We had right around 3,500 people. We were thrilled," she said. "This year, we're hoping people are still in the spirit of celebrating Independence Day at home."

There is no gate admission for any of the events except the Senior Pro Rodeo.

"We want it to be family friendly," Rogala said.

Reach reporter Whitney Bermes at 363-3300 or