CLAREMORE, Okla. – Many people associated with rodeo talk about the family atmosphere the sport fosters.
None know that any more than the Poppino clan of Big Cabin, Okla.: Tana, Marty and Brodie. Rodeo is in their blood as well as their bloodline, and they travel the country chasing their gold buckle dreams.
They also are part of the nearly 500 contestants who have entered the competition at the 66th edition of the Will Rogers Stampede, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 25-Sunday, May 27, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena just off East Blue Starr Drive in Claremore.
“It’s awesome because this is one of the few rodeos that we get to go to together,” said Tana Poppino, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in barrel racing. “This is also one of the rodeos that’s closest for us, so it’s one that we all want to do good at.
“I think it’s great that our two hometown rodeos, the one in Claremore and the one in Vinita, area both memorials to Will Rogers, and we get to celebrate a famous Oklahoman that the whole world got to know.”
Marty and Tana Poppino met while attending Oklahoma Panhandle State University on rodeo scholarships and married in 1985. A few years later, they brought a son into their rodeo world. Now he’s competing in ProRodeo on a permit while receiving his education at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
“I’m excited that I get to rope with my dad and be there for my mom,” said Brodie Poppino, 21, who will compete in steer roping and tie-down roping in Claremore. “It’ll also be great for me to get to rope in front of my Pa and Granny and that they’ll be able to watch us all.”
Although he’s competed in various events, Marty Poppino has focused on steer roping. He’s pretty good at it, too. He’s been one of the top hands in the Prairie Circuit for a number of years.
“We really don’t get to go to too many rodeos together,” Tana Poppino said of the family gathering in Claremore. “We try to go to circuit rodeos between now and the time I leave for the summer.
“I’m just glad that Claremore has steer roping so that we can. This part of the world has more steer ropers than about any other part of the world. It’s awesome that our local rodeos have it, because Brodie can rope and have his dad there to kind of mentor him, and I get to see them both compete.”