CLAREMORE, Okla. – Change is often the most difficult thing to accomplish.
Sometimes, though, it’s the most important thing to accomplish. That was the consensus of the volunteers who produce the Will Rogers Stampede, which will conduct its 67th edition of Claremore’s rodeo at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 24-Sunday, May 26.
“Our biggest move this year is to bring in Carr Pro Rodeo as our stock contractor and producer,” said David Petty, the committee’s chairman. “Pete Carr has some of the best animals going in rodeo, and he and his crew put on a great show. Fans who have been regulars to our rodeo for decades are going to be very impressed by what they see this year.
“For people who haven’t been to our rodeo, or who haven’t been in several years, they’re going to be amazed at the overall production. This is going to be more than a rodeo; Pete Carr puts on a great show.”
Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo is one of the premier stock contracting firms in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, well known for having the top stock in the sport. Just last season, the top bareback riders in the game selected Carr’s MGM Deuces Night as the top bucking horse in the game; Carr’s Dirty Jacket placed third in the voting for Bareback Horse of the Year.
They were two of 11 Carr animals that bucked at the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Others included Real Deal, the 2005 Bareback of the Year, and River Boat Annie, the 2007 reserve champion. Cowboys who make their livings on the rodeo trail know what to expect when they compete at a Carr-produced rodeo, no matter in what event they compete.
“Pete’s got an eye for good horses and is always trying to make his stock better,” said saddle bronc Isaac Diaz, a three-time NFR qualifier from Desdemona, Texas. “Pete’s constantly worried about whether we’re happy, which is good. There are a lot of contractors out there who could care less if we’re happy.
“Pete’s the opposite. He does what he can to keep us happy.”
That seems to be a common report among the elite cowboys in the game.
“To me, Pete Carr is one of the new wave of stock contractors who cares as much about one end of the arena as he does the other,” said Trevor Brazile, a 10-time all-around world champion who has added three tie-down roping and three steer roping titles and a team roping-heading championship. “There have been stock contractors that don’t really have a complete rodeo. In my opinion, Pete puts on a complete rodeo.”
Brazile knows as well as anyone what makes a great rodeo. He has competed in Claremore numerous times in his career, winning recent titles in steer roping and the all-around at the Will Rogers Round Up Arena. Winning titles in Rogers County is a big deal for those who know the history and lore of this part of the country.
“I’ve always wanted a chance to win this rodeo, because it’s close to my hometown and close to Fort Scott; it’s right between the best of two worlds for me,” said 2012 NFR bareback riding qualifier Jared Keylon, who grew up in the northwestern Arkansas community of Hagarville and now lives just 15 miles west of Fort Scott. “This is also the first ProRodeo I took my son to, and that just tickled me that he got to watch Dad win.”
The arena isn’t far from major ranches that make up a big part of what used to be known as the Oklahoma Territory. The rangeland is a perfect place to raise livestock, and area cowboys know what it takes to be a hand, whether in the pasture or in the rodeo arena.
“I love Claremore,” said saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley, a two-time NFR qualifier from College Station, Texas. “I’m from Texas, so Oklahoma’s not a far drive, and it’s dang sure cowboy country up here. And they sure appreciate bronc riders.
“Anytime you can get around here where some of those old ranchers can come out and watch you at the rodeo, they get excited about rodeo, and we get excited about that.”
As the puzzle pieces are configured, the revelation is a powerful portrait of what fans want in choosing how to spend their entertainment dollars.
“I think a lot of cowboys from around here are going to love the show we put on this year,” Petty said. “For those who might live in Tulsa, it doesn’t get any better than a fun time at the rodeo, getting back in touch with their Western roots and enjoying a great piece of entertainment.”
Having a high quality rodeo is attractive all the way around. The contestants know they’ll have a great opportunity on quality livestock to earn a prestigious title.
“Pete really strives to have the best stock he can get,” said Heath Ford, a three-time NFR qualifier who also serves as the bareback riding representative. “He spends money on them and also has one of the best breeding programs in the industry. He has one of the most solid pens going down the road.”