KALISPELL — We recently caught up with a man whose unique profession was crucial for the best rodeo experience at the Northwest Montana Fair.
It’s a unique profession that Missouri native Kelly Kinney was lucky enough to fall into, and he made sure to keep the crowd entertained.
It was November of 1995 and Kinney was set to compete as a rodeo cowboy but at the last minute the rodeo announcer didn’t show up.
“The people at the ranch had me announce the rodeo, by accident. I had fun, the crowd enjoyed it and that was 24 years ago,” said Kinney.
Kinney told MTN News he was no stranger to a microphone, “I was singing in a country band and competing in rodeo so I wasn’t afraid of a microphone.”
From there, Kinney says, it was history, "one guy called another guy and referred me and within about two or three years I was working one hundred performances a year,” explained Kinney.
As a professional rodeo announcer Kinney told us that he has a duty to the fans.
“My absolute number one priority is to make sure those people who buy a ticket feel like they’re entertained and they made the right choice by spending their night with us.”
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into announcing and Kinney studies each rider. Kinney also says this career can take its toll as the amount of traveling he does is exhaustive.
“In the years of honing my craft -- when I was making a name for myself -- I was on the road for 300 days a year. I missed funerals, I missed graduations, I missed weddings, birthdays anniversaries," Kinney recalled.
"I missed so much. There was a lot in my life that I missed. But by sacrificing all of that I was able to gain my career, at this level at this sport. That’s what I wanted,” he added.
Out of all of the places he’s been, Kinney says Kalispell has a special place in his heart, “I feel like I’ve come home when I come to Kalispell. I’m treated so well here," he concluded.