GREAT FALLS — The Montana Circuit finals returns to Great Falls for a 39th year, and the man in charge has been involved in every one of them.
“I helped start it,” said Montana Pro Rodeo president Jim Croff. “I was involved in it when we had our very first circuit finals in 1979 and have been to every one as a competitor or an organizer.”
Croff had quite a run as a competitor, winning the year-end saddle bronc titles in 1979 and 1980. He’s dedicated most of his life since running the Montana circuit and making the finals one of the most highly regarded events in the PRCA.
After 39 years, does it ever get old?
“There’s a day or two when it does,” laughed the Geyser resident. “But when it’s all said and done it’s such a satisfying event it’s just unbelievable. We have such great board and sponsor base. We’re trying to improve every year and I think we are every year. You always got new things that you have to make sure go well and hammering out the details, but years of doing it helps.”
Half the draw of the circuit finals are the athletes, but the other half is the production. The moneys and buckles will always attract the top cowboys and cowgirls, but Croff believes it’s the contract personnel that make the Circuit Finals one of a kind.
“We got (announcer) Will Rasmussen coming back and we got JJ Harrison, who is one of the best barrel men in the United States ,and we’re sure glad to have him back,” Croff said. “(Belt native) Jeff Marn there on the ground floor introducing the go-round winners and stuff, and that’s what helps it click. But just a lot of things: There’s more money added than ever and that, of course, makes all of the contestants a little hungrier.”
The 39th Annual Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals begin Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. The second performance is Saturday at 7 p.m., with the final round and awards ceremony scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.