BILLINGS — In 16 years, the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame has given away nearly $600,000 in scholarship money, but that's not nearly enough for them. So they came up with a new idea to raise more funds: a series of bronzes, the first unveiled Friday featuring a fitting star.
"Arguably Dan's the greatest bronc rider of all time. His resume backs it up," said Hall and Wall President Brent Jordan. "He's from Montana, so it was fitting to start with Dan. Kick off the series with a boom."
Billings native Dan Mortensen won six saddle bronc world titles and an all-around for lucky No. 7, so it was fitting for him to be atop Miss Congeniality, a Montana-bred bucking horse in the bronze unveiling in front of First Interstate Arena.
"Bob Burkhart did the bronze, and I've known Bob forever. He's a great artist and sculptor, so that was a neat deal," Mortensen said. "I actually put my name on one of them to get one of them."
Mortensen unsurprisingly chose No. 7 in the series for himself. As for No. 1?
"What we're going to do is we're going to have an open bid auction ... until Oct. 2," Jordan said. "That's when our Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame banquet is. At that time, we're going to open up the winning bid. So that's how we're going to do the No. 1 bronze."
There will be 12 total world champions honored in this series of bronzes, with each of them receiving 15 copies, so well over 100 of them will bring in funds for the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall.
Jordan said the group plans to bring some of the bronzes to Montana Pro Rodeo events throughout the year, while others can be purchased through private sale.
For more information, visit their website here.