If there was any doubt about Montana being a cowboy state there won’t be on January 25.
Professional cowboys will be arriving from every part of the country in Billings to attend the annual Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame Scholarship Fundraising Banquet & Gathering at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center, and part of that event will include a re-dedication of the “Wall of Fame” at Metra Park.
The re-dedication ceremony will bring forth many noted names from the roster of local and national pro rodeo stars, as well as local dignitaries. The dedication will begin at 1 pm at the lobby of the First Interstate Arena at Metra Park.
The “Big Visit” will begin at 2 pm at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, providing everyone with an opportunity to greet old friends, make new ones and encounter Montana pro rodeo cowboys, some of the most famous in rodeo history.
Miles Hare, inaugural Wrangler World Champion Bullfighter in 1981, will be VIP special guest.
This year’s event will also honor the late Ron Reed, who was a founding member of the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame, 15 years ago. Reed a lifelong resident of Billings spent his life working around livestock and cowboys, and is well-known to the “western way of life” in Montana. A Lifetime Achievement Award will be bestowed posthumously upon Ron Reed, according to Bill Williams, President of MPRH&WF, who credited Reed with much of the long-term success of the organization.
Some 600 people are expected to attend the banquet, auction, and dance — proceeds from which support scholarships that are awarded each year to high school students who have participated in rodeo and plan to continue their education. “While we honor our past, as an organization, we also look to the future with these scholarships,” explained Melodee Haagenson, treasurer for the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame.
Live music will be provided by Broken Reins.
To be inducted into the MPRH&WF as Montana “Legends” of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) will be Larry Peabody, Pompeys Pillar, and Deb Greenough, Billings, both of whom were inducted this year into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame; and both of whom are Bareback world champions.
Other “Legends” to be recognized are Ryan Mapston, Belt; Josh Reynolds of Ekalaka; and Carlynn Vietor of Philipsburg, former Miss Rodeo America, and the first female recipient of the award.
Western Heritage Award winners are Jim Croff of Geyser, Mike McCoy of Laurel, Leonard Wortman of Boulder and the Rennaker family of Hamilton.
Montana Rodeo Families award winners include the Dennis Tryan family of Huntley, the Pete and Aggie Stenger family of Billings, the Dennis Harms family of Livingston, and the Rodney Newman family of Melstone.
The Lady of the West award will be presented to Lois Hill of Raynesford.
Montana Ranch award winners are the Kirch Ranch in Absarokee, the Lazy K6 Ranch of Fort Benton, the Rising Ranch in Baker, and Teigan Land and Livestock in Teigan.
The Great Montana Pro Rodeo award winner is the Drummond rodeo. The Dawson Community College team was honored with the The Great Montana College Rodeo Program award.
The idea for the MPRH&WF was that of Lyle Graves. It is dedicated “to honoring Montana professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls who exemplify our Montana western heritage through maintenance of a monument site located near the MetraPark Arena” and scholarships for Montana high school students.
The monument site includes a bronze statue of Dan Mortensen on Tee Box, erected to honor the seven-time Pro Rodeo World Champion Cowboy.
The annual banquet and auction is the organization’s primary fundraiser. They also raise funds through the sale of “Brand Blocks” which are also displayed at the monument. Brand Blocks are 12-inch square blocks of granite in which is etched the sponsor’s name, hometown and registered Montana brand.
In the past fourteen years, scholarships have been provided to over 160 students totaling over $500,000.
All that is involved in building and maintaining the site and fundraising is done by volunteers “from various walks of life.” Anyone who would like the join the group has but to show up at their monthly meeting.
Details regarding the banquet, rededication ceremony, ticket purchases, make a contribution or to join MPRH&WF can be obtained by calling 406 256-6515.