CLAREMORE, Okla. – Rodeo’s greatest stars make their way to Rogers County every spring.
That’s the attractive nature that is the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 23-Sunday, May 25, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena. Discounted tickets can be found on the rodeo’s website, www.WillRogersStampede.com; fans can also follow the rodeo on Facebook.
In fact, 506 contestants have put their names in the hat in order to compete for the big prize money available in Claremore.
“I love the fact that we have so many contestants who are coming to our rodeo this year,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “When you look at the list of contestants, you see we have many of the greatest cowboys and cowgirls in rodeo that will be here. That says a lot about the hospitality they see in Claremore.”
The field of entrants includes eight-time world champion heeler Rich Skelton, three-time world champion steer roper Rocky Patterson, two-time steer wrestling titlist Dean Gorsuch and two-time barrel racing champ Brittany Pozzi.
In all, 62 of the Claremore competitors have qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I think that is a testament to the outstanding rodeo we have here,” Petty said. “We have a great history, but I think it helps us that we have the best stock contractor in rodeo with Pete Carr. He brings great livestock, which brings great cowboys.
“It makes a better show for the fans, which is why we’re here.”
There are a number of new things to greet fans, too. The committee has put in hundreds of hours to re-work the arena, which will feature the bucking chutes on the east side of the complex, providing all the action directly in front of the bleachers, which are on the west side. Modern restroom facilities also have been added just behind the main stands.
“We’ve been doing a lot of things at the arena,” Petty said. “We have play days, which is a way to increase interest in our facilities and our event, and we’ve started a cowboy church. I think we’ve done a lot of great things that will keep things growing for years to come.”
The final day of the rodeo features a cowboy church service beginning at 6 p.m. with the Rev. Roy Shoop officiating. Shoop is the pastor of Cowboy Gatherin’ Church in Inola, Okla., and also is a PRCA team roper. Anyone who attends the church service will be admitted to the rodeo for free.
“I can’t think of a better way to close out our weekend than to have some faithful fellowship followed by a great night of rodeo,” Petty said. “This is an exciting week for us.”