Updated: Jan 27
BILLINGS – The Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame held its annual induction ceremonies Saturday night, recognizing two of Granite County’s biggest names in the sport.
The Drummond Kiwanis PRCA Rodeo – which will celebrate its 79th annual event this year on July 5 – was recognized for its quality performances year after year. Drummond Kiwanis Executive Board members Butch Friede and Ron Wetsch attended the event to receive the award.
Also honored was Philipsburg resident Carolyn Vietor for a lifetime of service and participation in the rodeo arena.
Each year, Friede and Wetsch are in the American Legions Gold Start Post 125 arena to help the participants and officials make the show go smooth, while a host of Kiwanis members and volunteers work in the background selling tickets, concessions and making sure that attendees have a great time.
“The Drummond community and the Kiwanis Club are very honored to be inducted into Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and wall of Fame,” said Friede of the honor.
Wetsch also wanted to make sure that the numerous volunteers and area businesses were not forgotten, and were a big part of the Drummond Kiwanis receiving the honor.
“Not only did the Kiwanis put these rodeos on, but also the American Legion, the businesses here (in Granite County) and the surrounding businesses, and all the volunteers that helped put this on,” said Wetsch. “Without all of them this (Drummond Rodeo) wouldn’t have kept on going. Its all of the people from here and everywhere around here that make this happen.”
The Drummond Rodeo was founded in 1942, when a group of ranchers decided to put on a rodeo and horse races. The rodeo’s first producer was Roy King and was located on Main Street while the horse races took place down the middle of town on Front Street. While others have produced the stock throughout the years, the last 20 years have seen Kesslers take on that responsibility.
Throughout the years the event has been attended by some of the best riders in the Treasure State, including Benny Reynolds, Deb Greenough, Dan Mortenson, Scott Breding, Kevin Nordahl, Jack Nystrom, Jesse, Davis, Ryan Mapson, Rooster Reynolds, Rod Lyman, Fred Whitfield, Jess Martin, Clay Tryan, and Dustin Bird.Performers Trixie McCormick, Donne Landess, Burt Davis, Timber Tuckness, and Flint Rassmussen.
After years of running the Drummond Rodeo, the Drummond American Legion Gold Start Post 125 gave the event to the Drummond Kiwanis Club who has run it ever since. The Kiwanis Club uses the funds to support local groups such Special Olympics, Boy Scouts and Boys & Girls State. Currently it also funds the club’s civic programs such as Operation Santa Claus, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and projects like the yet-to-be-named walking park located just south of town and west of the rodeo grounds that straddles Montana Highway 1.
You can read the full induction ceremony articles on all of the 2020 class of the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall & Wall of Fame by clicking HERE.
Growing up in Texas, Carolynn quickly found what would be the joy of her life when a friend gave their family box seats to see the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. “Some friends of my grandparents gave us box seat tickets, and from those seats I watched the barrel racing for the first time and was hooked. I knew right then and there that I wanted to barrel race one day.”
As she progressed in the sport, Carolynn found herself competing in a series of Miss Rodeo contests. In 1965, the NIRA held a Rodeo Queen contest and Carolynn rode away from the competition with the crown and title that summer. By the fall of that same year, she had also claimed the Miss Rodeo Texas crown, and finally went on to collect the coveted Miss Rodeo America crown, reigning for all three associations in 1966. Carolynn was the first Miss Rodeo America to win in all three categories of the competition; horsemanship, personality, and appearance.
Carolynn was named the 1999 Coca-Cola Woman of the Year, 2002 Pioneer Woman of the Year, and was awarded the WPRA Heritage Award in 2002 as well. “Everything is bigger and better, Miss Rodeo America, rodeos, barrel racing, all of it. There are so many more rodeos, more sponsors, and so much more money. No one ever dreamed we’d compete for the money we can today.”