Understanding ProRodeo's Circuits and the RNCFR
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is organized in a slightly complicated fashion into circuits and tours that can be very confusing to those who have no idea about the road to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. I would like to dedicate an entire blog to the 12 regional circuits of the PRCA, their respective circuit finals, and the qualifications to the Ram National Circuit Finals.
You can liken the circuit idea, which started in 1975, to the motto of the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association of the “Weekend Cowboys” (although the PRCA dubs them the “weekend warriors” – a little more intense). These are people who are able to keep a Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, job and still be able to go rodeo on the weekend and qualify for a finals-eque rodeo.
What are the geographical regions of each of the circuits?
- Columbia River Circuit – Located in the northwest consisting of Washington, Oregon, the northern tip of Idaho and parts of Montana.
- California Circuit – The state of California.
- Wilderness Circuit – Located east of California, it includes the majority of Idaho, Nevada and Utah.
- Montana Circuit – The state of Montana.
- Mountain States Circuit – Includes Wyoming and Colorado.
- Turquoise Circuit – Includes the states of New Mexico and Arizona.
- Badlands Circuit – Includes North and South Dakota.
- Prairie Circuit – Includes Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.
- Texas Circuit – The state of Texas.
- Great Lakes Circuit – Includes the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky.
- First Frontier Circuit – Is the northeastern most part of the United States and includes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. With thirteen states, it's the circuit that holds the most states within it's boundaries.
- Southeastern Circuit – Includes everything in the southeastern part of the United States which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas.
How does a contestant pick a circuit?
The contestant picks their circuit based off of their preference or off their home address. Meaning that if I am from Louisiana, I could compete in the Southeastern Circuit as my home circuit or I could choose, say, the Wilderness Circuit (or any other circuit for that matter) for my "home" circuit. If a contestant does not determine a separate circuit, the PRCA will allocate them in the circuit that their home address resides in.
Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR)
At the end of the season, each of the circuits will have their own respective Circuit Finals rodeo. These finals are held with some in November of the competing year (remember that the ProRodeo Season runs from October through September) and other in February or March of the next year. The contestants for the finals are competing for the top spot at their circuit finals, as well as the overall top spot in the season standings. These top two contestants will represent their Circuit at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo held in April in Kissimmee, Florida.
These finals have been held in the past in Idaho before moving to Oklahoma in 2011. In 2015, it moved to Kissimmee, Florida, where they have added more sponsor money for the contestants to win - thus the reasoning for the big move to a not so stereotypical rodeo area. The PRCA expects a surge in rodeo’s fan base as they tap into an exciting tourist location that is loaded with theme parks and other exciting adventures (not unlike the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Viva Las Vegas!). They are also a heck of a lot closer for all of the Texas cowboys (who compete in circuits all over the country) than, say, Nevada. It will be harder for the northern contestants to make it, but a chance for nice weather for a winter-ish rodeo is more than exciting for these contestants.
Not everyone has the time, nor money, to travel the large tours that the big names (think Trevor Brazile, Tuf Cooper, Bobby Mote, Kaycee Fields, etc.) compete on all around the United States. The circuit system allows a huge opportunity for these people to be rewarded for their time, dedication, and hard work to the sport and it's sponsors. Don't be confused though, the big name contestants will most likely qualify in a circuit for the Ram National Circuit Finals so you will get to see some of the fan favorites competing against the Weekend Warriors.
One of the great attributes of the circuit system is that it allows a younger cowboy or a "weekend warrior" to find success through the ranks, winning larger and larger purses to help fund them down the rodeo trail. It is not a surprise to see someone win enough money through the circuit system to put them on a the national tour and a run for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
As of 2016, monies won at each of the twelve circuit finals and the Ram National Circuit Finals counts towards the PRCA's world standings for that next year. Doesn't make sense? Here's the breakdown:
- Compete in circuit rodeos in 2016
- Qualify to respective circuit finals in 2016 or 2017 (depending on the circuit finals timing)
- Win either your circuit finals or finish the season #1 in the standings for your circuit to qualify for the National Circuit Finals - This money counts toward the 2017 World Standings
- Win money at the 2016 National Circuit Finals (held April 2017 in Florida) - Count the money towards the 2017 World Standings.
This has been an added benefit for competitors to stay closer to home, saving money on gas and travel time. An ever-changing beast, the circuit systems opened up in 2017 to include one new circuit based off the Mexican Rodeo Federation. Stay tuned over the next few years as the PRCA looks to include potentially Canada, Brazil, and more to the RNCFR.
Advancing through the RNCFR
All 26 competitors (two from each of the thirteen circuits) compete in two preliminary rounds over the course of two days. In this tournament style finals, the top eight contestants from each event advance to the semifinals. For the semifinals, competitors will see a clean slate start where the previous times and scores will be thrown out. After one semifinal round, the top four for each event advance to the championship round.
The championship round is the "Wrangler Round" where contestants again see a clean slate start with previous times and scores thrown out. Contestants are now competing for the RNCFR title and any of the four who qualify to this championship round are eligible to win.
This article was originally published on the blog PNW Country Girl and updated and reposted via their permissions.