CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo has long been a regional affair, and now the Claremore community is even more involved in the exposition.
Over the past few months, the Rodeo Arena Interlocal Cooperative was established to help care for the grounds that showcase the rodeo, which will celebrate its 72nd year over Memorial Day weekend. The rodeo is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 25-Sunday, May 27, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena at the newly established Stampede Park.
“We’re pretty proud of the rodeo we’ve got, and the Arena Co-op is doing things to help the rodeo with its grounds and facilities to help make this a great attraction for the people that attend our rodeo,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo, which has been named the Small Rodeo of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association each of the past four years.
“For the last seven decades, our rodeo has been supported by sponsors and fans, and we just haven’t had the funds necessary to care for our grounds. The Arena Co-op will take care of that now, and that opens the door for the rodeo committee to focus on the rodeo, the sponsors, the contestants and the fans.”
After being donated by the Will Rogers Round-Up Club, the grounds are now owned by the cooperative, which is a legal entity and a partnership between the city of Claremore and the Rogers County Commission.
The Arena Co-op consists of five individuals: Petty; Dan Delozier, District 1 Rogers County commissioner; Louie Gardner, owner of Utility Cable Co./Mid-Town Rental; Tanya Andrews, executive director of the Claremore Convention and Tourism Bureau; and Jim Thomas, Claremore’s city manager.
Together they are governed by the co-op’s bylaws and have worked with the Round-Up Club to set goals for facilities needs. So far, a new parking lot, new fencing and an updated entrance have been completed.
“I think it’s phenomenal to get another group together and make some changes that have needed to be made,” said Scott Grover, the voice of the Stampede who will be calling the action for the 14th consecutive year. “This is going to help make Claremore’s rodeo a destination not only for people from Oklahoma but for people to come from all around the country to see this rodeo and how great it is.
“I think getting the Arena Co-op involved will just make it bigger and better.”
That’s exactly what the co-op members have wanted since the entity was established. With an already-recognized and awarded rodeo in town, it only stands to get stronger.
“Having more community involvement gives Claremore more ownership of their event,” Grover said. “This is an event that’s been around many years. With a new look like this, it gives more people a chance to be involved, those that have never thought about being involved with the rodeo. It surely could be exciting.”