CLAREMORE, Okla. – There’s something magical about this community in northeastern Oklahoma that happens every spring, and the word is spreading.
The Will Rogers Stampede, a Memorial Day weekend staple in Claremore, is the two-time reigning Small Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Now it’s in line for another, having been nominated for the third straight year.
“This is a great honor for Claremore and all of Rogers County,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “Everyone has come out and welcomed the cowboys to town, helped make them feel at home when they’re here, and it shows in this nomination.
“This past year, the community got even more involved, and everyone took notice. Everyone promoted the Downtown Hoedown on that Thursday before the rodeo, and we had a lot of people who came out and enjoyed the evening. That was a great way to bring in a fun weekend.”
The Stampede is one of five rodeos in its division to be up for the award this year, joined by rodeos in Bridgeport, Texas; Huntsville, Texas; Elizabeth, Colo.; and Monte Vista, Colo.
“It’s truly an honor for Claremore’s rodeo to be recognized with those other great events,” Petty said. “The PRCA has four categories for Rodeo of the Year – Small, Medium, Large Outdoor and Large Indoor – so it says something about our community that this event is recognized as one of the top 20 rodeos in North America.
“There are more than 600 rodeos in the PRCA, so I think this is something the community should be very proud of.”
The Will Rogers Stampede isn’t the only of several nominees who are part of the annual celebration. The event is joined by Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the event’s livestock producer that is up for Stock Contractor of the Year; Sandy Gwatney, Secretary of the Year; Clay Heger, Bullfighter of the Year; Jeremy Willis, Pickup Man of the Year; and Gizmo McCracken, who is up for both Clown and Comedy Act of the Year.
“We are blessed to have the best contract personnel in rodeo who come to Claremore every year,” Petty said. “From great livestock to all the work that’s done behind the scenes, they help us put Claremore on the map every year. We couldn’t do this without them or without this great community.”