Atoka anxious for rodeo’s return

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Tuff Hardman returns to his hometown for the Atoka (Oklahoma) Pro Rodeo next week, where he will compete in steer roping and serve as a pickup man for McCoy Rodeo.

ATOKA, Okla. – Seventeen seasons ago in the PRCA, a southeastern Oklahoma cowboy utilized a big payday at the Xtreme Bulls event in Oklahoma City to catapult him to a National Finals Rodeo qualification.

Fast forward to 2022. That same cowboy, Cord McCoy, is now an event producer, and he’s bringing the PRCA’s stand-alone bull riding back to southeastern Oklahoma with the Atoka Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Atoka Trail Riders Arena. It’s all part of a long Memorial Day weekend of action that also includes the Atoka Pro Rodeo presented by Choctaw Casino Stringtown, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29.

“Bull riding is big in this part country,” said Tuff Hardman, an Atoka cowboy who is also part of McCoy Rodeo and will serve as one of the pickup men during the four days of activities in his home town. “You’ve got Lane Frost, one of the best bull riders ever, and he’s from here in Atoka County.

“People can relate to bull riding. They’re going to get to see 40 to 50 of the best bull riders in the world right here, and that’s going to be followed up by the best rodeo around.”

It will make for the perfect getaway for families looking for things to do over the long holiday. From top-flight competition to family-friendly entertainment, there will be a lot to enjoy at the arena.

This is the second year for the PRCA to conduct a rodeo in Atoka County. McCoy established the ProRodeo a year ago, and fans turned out despite heavy rainfall. It was so successful that two more days of rodeo are added to this year’s calendar.

“It’s pretty neat to be able to compete in front of your hometown crowd,” said Hardman, who finished the 2021 season among the top 30 steer ropers in the world standings. “At that level, it’s pretty exciting to see ProRodeo here in Atoka.

“I thought last year was a hit. Under the conditions we were in, it was probably one of the better rodeos I’ve been to. I enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to it this year.”

Big things happened in the muck and the mud a year ago. Cole Patterson won the steer roping title en route to his first world championship, and Jackie Crawford, a 20-time world titlist, captured the breakaway roping crown.

Those associated with the rodeo are expecting even bigger things to happen this year.

“I think people around here can relate to our rodeo,” Hardman said. “Everything about the Atoka ProRodeo is hometown: the stock contractor, the pickup man and a lot of the contestants. Everything McCoy Rodeo brings to Atoka is local and hometown.

“I think people love that. Cord brings the best bucking bulls in the world to his hometown rodeo, so everybody gets excited about that.”


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