BILLINGS – The gang at Montana’s Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame likes to give away money.
They’ve raised almost $500,000 in 13 years of funding scholarships for Montana kids, and their blowout banquet is Saturday night in Billings. Safe to say it’s a party.
Among the special guests at this year’s 13th annual is Marvin Joyce, who grew up on a ranch near East Helena, then went on to win the 1972 world saddle bronc in Oklahoma City. To this day, it’s still his most coveted rodeo memory.
“It was a phenomenal week,” remembered Joyce Friday afternoon at the Q2 studios in Billings. “I drew awful well, which gave me the opportunity to go ahead and ride all 10 of them and win the average. It’s the highlight of my career, obviously. Winning the NFR meant more to me than anything else when it comes to riding in rodeo.”
You can bet that story will be told Saturday night.
Brent Jordan, who calls Livingston home, is in his 12th year of emceeing this event.
“Here’s what happens,” he leaned in and said, “two hours before the event starts, big visit, cowboys telling stories, retelling stories, adding to them, right? You know, people love to do that. Then we have our banquet, honor everybody and then have a big dance afterward. It’s a lot of fun.”
Kevin Holten is the executive producer of a new TV series called Special Cowboy Moments. It airs Wednesday’s on RFD-TV, and Holten is in Billings to feature this weekend’s marquee event.
Special Cowboys Moments is a relatively new series, but Holten admits it’s been in the works since he was a child.
“If you really want to know,” Holten said smiling, “it started when I was about 6 years old. My grandfather worked on the Heckman ranch in North Dakota near the Canadian line and he would tell me stories. He was 50 years old when my mother was born, so he was a lot older than I was. And I would sit on the couch with him and listen to his stories about working on a ranch with 1,000 head of cattle, hundreds of head of horses. The problem is, nobody knows that history. Nobody knows the Heckman ranch ever existed. So that kind of planted the seed. We need to preserve this history or it’s gone forever.”
The Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame Scholarship Fundraising Banquet and Gathering is Saturday night at the Radison Hotel. For reservations, call 406-256-6615 or visit www.montanaprorodeo.com.