The Event at Rebecca Farm is a Flathead Valley institution — an enduring summer tradition featuring a festive and social five-day equestrian triathlon that marks a midpoint in northwest Montana’s treasured days of sun and adventure.
Entering its 22nd year, The Event has cemented its local legacy, but “eventing” traces its roots as an organized form of competition back to early-20th century France, where it evolved into an Olympic sport open to military officers. While talk of institutions, traditions, and centuries past might suggest something dusty, stale, or rigid, what takes place every July at the 640-acre Rebecca Farm in Kalispell is filled with freewheeling energy, live entertainment, and fresh air.
The Event annually draws more than 600 competitors and their horses, along with thousands of people from throughout North America intent on watching one of the only Olympic-qualifying eventing contests in the region. For a brief stretch from July 19-23, Rebecca Farm will transform into something of a small town populated by humans and horses.
Admission and parking are free, as is the equestrian spectacle; however, blankets and camping chairs for settling down in the grass and soaking up the activities are up to spectators to provide.
The Event also offers other entertainment, including food trucks, and a walkable shopping fair focused on goods made either in Montana, or in the region, including jewelry, apparel, art, home décor, and equestrian products. Of course, the smallest and youngest attendees may need something else to hold their interest, and The Event has something for them, too, with a Kids Zone complete with mini golf, face painting, arts and crafts, and pony rides.
In the first portion of the competition, called dressage, horses and riders execute a sequence of movements that are then judged to furnish each competitor with a baseline score. The goal is to finish out the remaining competitive trials with the lowest possible score. Penalties, as assessed by judges, will add points to the score.
Rounding out the equestrian triathlon at The Event is a show-jumping course, which in some cases features jumps as high as 4-feet tall, and a cross-country course, which requires horses and riders to navigate an extended area, complete with water features and other obstacles.
For top-level competitors, show jumping is the final competition, and riders are ranked from highest score to lowest, meaning the person with the best score will be the last to compete. That creates what Event Manager Sarah Broussard described as a climax of “nail-biting” moments.
The Saturday night before the final day of competition, The Event will hold a celebration complete with barbecue, live auction, music and dancing. Tickets are required for food, but otherwise the celebration is open to attendees. The auction, which will include vacation packages, benefits Halt Cancer at X, an initiative that awards grants to local organizations and research programs focused on treating cancer, and supporting those impacted by it. Halt Cancer at X was founded in 2012 in honor of Sarah’s mother, Rebecca Broussard, an influential figure in the world of eventing who founded The Event. She lost her life to cancer in 2010, and so Halt Cancer at X, which refers to the stopping point for the first movement in dressage, was founded in her memory.
“My mother had a grand vision for what she wanted The Event, and the farm to be,” Sarah Broussard said.
So far, that vision has been borne out.
“When people come to Rebecca Farm, they usually want to return,” she said. “We strive to put out a product that people enjoy. My goal is to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time, even if they don’t have their best ride. There’s more to an event than just being in the ring.”
For more information, visit rebeccafarm.org.
The above content is sponsored by The Event at Rebecca Farm. To learn more about sponsored content, email [email protected].