GREAT FALLS -- The 41st annual Montana Circuit Finals fire up Friday night at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. But one longtime staple will be missing from the proceedings.
Former Montana PRCA president Jim Croff passed away in September - after complications recovering from a neck injury. The Geyser cowboy was part of the circuit finals since its inception 40 years ago, first as a competitor winning two year-end saddle bronc titles; and then spending 26 years as the head of the Montana circuit, and helping turn the annual finals into the top event of its kind in the nation.
The tributes and remembrances will take many forms this weekend, but one thing is for certain: Jim Croff and what he did for rodeo in Montana, won't soon be forgotten.
"It's going to be a good time to remember Jim, and all the work that he did, the person he was he had great integrity and honesty and people just love Jim," said 10-time NFR qualifier Ryan Mapston.
"There may be 50-thousand people that show up over the course of three days that haven't been to a rodeo in 15 years, just because of him,” said Tyrell Smith, Jim’s nephew. “There's no telling how many people or how much support is going to be there, we just know it's going to be a lot."
First performance of the Montana Circuit Finals begins Friday night at 7 p.m., and runs through Sunday.