Arlee has a rich rodeo heritage, with notable cowboys and cowgirls like Judy Myllymaki, Rachael Myllymaki, Bobby Schall, and Jerry Matt achieving regional championships and national qualifications in events like barrel racing and team roping.
The Arlee Rodeo, held annually on July 4th, is a testament to this rodeo tradition, and owes much to its founder, RT Hendrickson. A rodeo rider since his youth, RT won a regional Bull Riding Title in the Montana Rodeo Association in 1977 and later qualified for the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Bareback Riding. In 1983, he started leasing the Arlee Rodeo Grounds from the Salish and Kootenai Tribe, and began putting on Indian rodeos before switching to open rodeos which have been successful ever since.
RT has also contributed to the sport by raising bucking horses, providing stock for rodeos, and starting the Arlee Rough Stock Rodeo Buckle series. He has even judged rodeo events in various associations and is currently a Pick Up Man for the PRCA. Additionally, he and world champion bareback rider Deb Greenough started a bareback riding school in 1996 to help young riders get a safer start. Arlee’s rodeo history and RT Hendrickson’s contributions have solidified the town’s place in Montana’s rodeo culture.