The Crow Fair and Rodeo near Billings, Montana, is bustling with the next generation of rodeo stars, brilliant pow wow dancers, hundreds of horses and visitors, some set to stay in the more than 1,000 teepees.
According to CNN, a “mini metropolis of teepees” are set around the Little Big Horn River for the four-day event, which begins August 14. "We'd wake up in those teepees, and we were pretty happy to slip the bridles off the horses and ride bareback to the river," said Jim Real Bird, Crow nation,58, recounting his childhood at the rodeo.
"We'd take the horses to the river to drink water — that was our first job as young boys."
It’s also a place where youngsters learn the rodeo ways. "It's one of the largest Indian rodeos within the United States of America," Real Bird told CNN. "We've had quite a few young Indian men that have ridden here, gone into professional rodeo, and become world champions."
The Indian relays take place in the rolling hills just outside of Billings. The danger and excitement of the races is a testament to the courage and fearlessness of the jockeys as they ride bareback and jump from horse to horse. "It's more or less carried on from the warrior days of old, when they would go and invade enemy camps and make off with their horses," Robert Old Horn, who took part in his first relay when he was just 16, told the news network.
The 96th annual event draws tens of thousands of people each year and is considered the largest modern day American Indian encampment in the nation, according to Montana’s official travel website. The rodeo, racing and parade end on August 17; and the pow wow, which is daily, ends on August 18.
The Crow Nation’s pow wow starts in the evening and welcomes a celebration of dance. The fair also hosts its “Parade Dance” – a way for the Crow to pray for good things to come now, and in the future.
Dance specials include, Crow, style, chicken dance, and one for tiny tots. The emcee’s are Jason Goodstriker, Corky Old Horn and Darin Old Coyote. And this year’s host drums are the White Fish Jrs and the Young Bear Singers.
All are welcome to the event, which is free, and many come from all over the United States and Canada to a part of the country that’s deep in the plains.
"You could call it the Wild West. But this is what we call it: ‘The Tee-pee Capital of the World,'" Old Horn said.
Read more about the fair and rodeo on CNN.