CLAREMORE, Okla. – After months of planning and intense labor around their arena, the organizers of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo are ready for the event’s 70th anniversary celebration.
“From the time we closed the curtain on our 2015 rodeo, we began the process for this year’s rodeo,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27-Sunday, May 29, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena. “We wanted to make this our best rodeo ever.”
That’s going to be quite a task. The Will Rogers Stampede was named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Small Rodeo of the Year in 2014 and ’15, and nearly 550 contestants are scheduled to compete next week in Claremore.
“Because this is our 70th year and because this community has been such a great supporter of this rodeo and helped us get the Rodeo of the Year awards, we really wanted to make a statement in 2016,” Petty said. “That’s why we’ve worked closely with City Manager Jim Thomas and the city of Claremore. We’re having the Downtown Hoedown to open the celebration on Thursday night, and we’ve got three great concerts that will follow each of the three performances of our rodeo.”
Tickets are on sale through the event’s website, www.WillRogersStampede.com, and include family packs and adult passes offered at a significant discount online. The Stampede parade returns, and it begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. The featured Red Dirt/Texas Music acts will be Adam Hood on Friday, Cooder Graw on Saturday and Cody Canada and The Departed to close out the weekend Sunday night.
“We’re extremely excited about our concert lineup,” Petty said, noting that volunteers have worked diligently to build a stage that is set up on the east side of the arena facing the stands. “To have acts like Cooder Graw and Cody Canada in Claremore is a big deal.”
Yes, it is. But there’s no better opening act in Rogers County than the award-winning rodeo, featuring the production and incredible animal athletes from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, which has been recognized as one of the top five stock contracting firms in the PRCA.
The rodeo also will feature the comedy of Gizmo McCracken, who has been nominated as the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year six times. Skydiver Bobby Reid makes his return to bring in Old Glory from the air for all three performances.
“I love coming to Claremore,” said Reid, who lives in Montrose, Iowa. “The people are so friendly, and the committee there is amazing. They make me feel at home in Claremore.”
Many people feel that same way, which is why the local committee has worked so hard to make sure this year’s celebration is memorable.
“We don’t volunteer for this for the awards, so we’re not going to sit back and let our past define us,” Petty said. “We want to just keep getting better and make this a showcase every year.”