CLAREMORE, Okla. – Rodeo is America’s original extreme sport, and every year its greatest athletes make their way to Rogers County to fight for the thousands of dollars in prize money available at the Will Rogers Stampede.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of Claremore’s rodeo, and the producers of the annual event are making the celebration a showcase for everyone in the region.
“We know we’ve got a great show with the competition, but we want to give the fans everything they’re looking for in the way of entertainment,” said David Petty, the rodeo’s chairman.
Sky-diver Bobby Reid will be parachuting the U.S. flag as part of an elaborate opening during each of the three performances of the rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday at Will Rogers Stampede Arena just off East Blue Starr Drive in Claremore.
“Bobby does this kind of thing at events all across the country, and we wanted to kick off each night of our rodeo with a bang,” Petty said. “I think this is a great way to honor America and to honor our sport of rodeo.”
The Will Rogers Stampede will feature outstanding athletes, both human and animal. From the talented bucking horses and bulls to the phenomenal timed-event horses that make the difference in a championship and finishing out of the money. There will be plenty of horse power this year with a record 564 entries.
Quite possibly the fastest animals in the competition will be in barrel racing, an event sanctioned by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. In fact, the ladies in the organization rewarded the Will Rogers Stampede with its 2010 Justin Best Footing award for the Prairie Circuit, the ProRodeo region involving contestants and events from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
“The ground is a big deal in every timed event in rodeo, but good ground is essential in barrel racing,” said Tana Poppino, a three-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. “Without quality ground, it can really make a difference in the competition.”
The recognition is quite an honor for the volunteers who work hard all year to provide the best opportunity for all those contestants.
“When you look at the hours these people put in to make that ground so good, you know how much work it took,” Petty said. “It’s a pretty special feeling that the WPRA selected our rodeo, because it was a statement made by the competitors, the ladies that ran at our rodeo and all the other rodeos in the circuit.”