CLAREMORE, Okla. – There’s a lot of history in the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, and Dell Hall has seen his share.
Hall is the owner of Rafter H Rodeo Livestock Co., and he’s been the stock contractor for the Claremore annual rodeo since 1975, his first year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“Claremore was the first PRCA rodeo that my dad actually had on his own,” said Shelley Hall, Dell’s daughter and a key member of the stock-contracting firm. “He signed a contract with them the very first year he was a member of the PRCA. We have been here ever since.”
And that means a lot to the locals in Rogers County, too.
“The first contract was written on a paper napkin at Dot’s Café,” said David Petty, chairman of the rodeo, which will have performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27-Sunday, May 29.
Over the years, Rafter H has consistently had some of the best bucking animals in the region, if not the entire country. Two bulls, No. 105 and Skoal’s King Kong, were named the best in the PRCA – 105 in 1981 and ’84, and Skoal’s King Kong in 1998 – and the horse Alibi was the saddle bronc riding horse of the year in 1983. Those are just the top of the list of honors for the Halls’ animal athletes.
Headquartered in Tahlequah, Okla., Rafter H was formed in 1961. The 49 years since have seen Hall bucking beasts in some of the biggest rodeos in the country, including those that are voted by the cowboys to be part of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the year-ending championship that has taken place in Las Vegas since 1985.
“He consistently has as even a pen of bucking stock as anybody in the business,” Petty said. “It’s an honor to have your stock at the NFR, and he consistently sends them there and to the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.
“Dell’s always done a good job for us in Claremore. He’s always done what he said he was going to do.”
That, it seems, is part of the package for people who hire Rafter H.
“To put on a good rodeo, you have to have a good crew – the people you have working for you and the people you are working with,” Shelley Hall said. “Everyone has to be on the same page for your rodeo to be the best and to be successful.
“The goal is to put on the best rodeo you can to make people want to come back each year.”
That method seems to work pretty well at the Will Rogers Stampede, now in its 65th year. The love of the rodeo has been passed along the generations.
“I think what’s special about the Will Rogers Stampede is that it is a homecoming to all the rodeo and ranching people in the area,” Shelley Hall said. “Every year, you see people you haven’t seen in years, and they all gather at the rodeo to visit and see old friends. Lots of old cowboys that competed at the rodeo over the years show up to watch the bucking horses and bulls.
“Dad always wants to put on the very best rodeo he can at Claremore, because the people in the stands know a good rodeo when they see it.”