Claremore rodeo focuses on fans

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CLAREMORE, Okla. – Rodeo is much more than a sport.

It’s a true showcase, the perfect piece of family entertainment. That is the mindset taken by the by the volunteers who organize the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo and the staff at Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, which produces the annual rodeo, set for 7:45 p.m. Friday, May 22-Sunday, May 24, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena.

“We try to have the theatrical portion of our show not interfere with the competition side,” said John Gwatney, a production supervisor for Carr rodeo. “We try to run a good, fast, clean performance without interfering with the competition.

“That’s where we’re different from other rodeo companies. If we’re not ready, the cowboy has to wait. When it comes time for that cowboy to compete, we’ve done everything we can to make that animal ready for that cowboy, so all he has to do is nod his head.”

That’s very attractive for everyone involved. Fans love it, which makes the experience perfect for local organizers.

“We have a lot of true rodeo fans in this part of Oklahoma,” said David Petty, chairman of the Will Rogers Stampede, which is the 2014 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Small Rodeo of the Year. “The last few years, we’ve had an outstanding rodeo, and it shows in a lot of things that we’re doing in Claremore.

“It helps a lot that Pete Carr is our stock contractor, because he’s one of the very best in rodeo. Our fans know he has great bucking horses and bulls, and that, in turn, helps us draw the top contestants to our rodeo.”

The overall package is set up for everyone involved. The Carr team works hard with local orgaanizers to make it a fair competition for the cowboys and cowgirls, then puts in a concerted effort to put together a production that will have fans talking long after the final bull is bucked.

“We micromanage our program ahead of time,” Carr said. “We can’t be perfect, but we can dang sure get as close as we can. We’re always striving to be better, identifying the weaknesses and taking constructive criticism. It’s an everyday challenge, but I think trying to be better is just trying to take it to the next level.

“I’m proud of what we do, but I know we can always find ways to improve things. I like that the people I work with have that same mindset, too.”

The proof is in what happens at each rodeo performance.

“We have a weekend full of rodeo that is wild and fun and full of the top cowboys and cowgirls,” Petty said. “That’s what our fans want to see, and that’s what they can expect to see again this year.”

It’s a start-to-finish project for the entire Carr staff.

“What starts the production is our version of Americana,” Gwatney said. “We’re looking to get peoples’ emotions up, get them on the edge of their seats so when that first animal bucks, the height of the excitement is already up.”


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