CLAREMORE, Okla. – Cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country are preparing to converge on Claremore this week.
The Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo – the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s 2014 Small Rodeo of the Year – will feature nearly 600 entries for the upcoming event, set for 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 22-Sunday, May 24, 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.
But there’s so much more to the Memorial Day Weekend festivities in Rogers County.
“We’ve worked really hard this year to put together the best experience possible for people who want to come to a professional rodeo and have a good time,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We’ve got a lot for the fans to enjoy with Miss Rodeo America Lauren Heaton along with our great acts, Tomas Garcilazo and John Harrison.”
Heaton is the first Miss Rodeo Oklahoma to win the national crown. Gracilazo is a charro who earned the PRCA’s Dress Act of the Year in 2012 and ’13. Harrison, of Soper, Okla., won the 2014 PRCA Comedy Act of the Year and the Coors Man in the Can.
Together, they bring the pomp and circumstance and valuable entertainment to the event, but the action comes in the competition. A big reason why so many contestants make their way to Claremore every May is because of the bucking stock from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based livestock firm that has been one of the top five in the PRCA each of the past two seasons.
“Having Pete Carr and his crew at our rodeo is one of the reasons our rodeo has seen recent success,” Petty said. “He has amazing bucking stock and produces an incredible rodeo.”
That’s key to the biggest and best names in the game, including world champions like Rocky Patterson, Guy Allen, Mary Walker, Ryan Jarrett, Will Lowe, Trevor Brazile and Sage Kimzey. Brazile and Kimzey are reigning champions – Brazile in steer roping and the all-around and Kimzey in bull riding.
Kimzey also is the reigning Will Rogers Stampede champion. That win was a key reason he ran through the 2014 season in dominating fashion.
He will be joined in Claremore this week by several other Wrangler National Finals Rodeo or Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping qualifiers who come from the area: Tie down ropers Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla., and Mike Johnson of Henryetta, Okla.; steer wrestler Tom Duvall of Hichita, Okla.; team ropers Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Okla., and Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kan.; barrel racer Tana Poppino of Big Cabin, Okla.; bull rider Tate Stratton of Kellyville, Okla.; and steer ropers Brodie Poppino of Big Cabin and Brady Garten of Claremore.
“It’s a very exciting week for us, and we’re ready to put on the kind of show that has people talking,” Petty said. “It takes a lot of work to put on an event like this, but we do this because we love it and we love this community. It’s an amazing experience.”