By: Lorrie Ward | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: May 2014
“Dirty Jacket,” Bareback Horse of the Year, taking Jessy Davis to the pay window.
There are only two things you can do if a stampede hits: run with it or get out of its way. So when the Will Rogers Stampede Rodeo hits Claremore on Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, be sure to find a safe place on the sidelines to watch the dust fly as the hooves hit the ground in a thunderous display of man and woman versus nature.
David Petty, chairman of this year’s event and member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Executive Council, describes Claremore’s Will Rogers Stampede as “one of the top tier rodeos in the country” and feels it is probably the second largest Oklahoma rodeo behind Guymon. He chuckles and says he “married into” the Will Rogers Stampede Association, as his wife’s grandparents were charter members of the original Round Up Club. But his commitment to preserving the heritage of this 68-year-old event goes well beyond that of a typical in-law. “This is the largest and longest running event in Rogers County next to Will Rogers Days,” he points out. “And I want to help keep that tradition going.”
While tradition is at the heart of this event, David points out that some changes have been necessary to make the event one that continues to draw top level competitors to Claremore. For instance, the rodeo recently changed stock contractors and now uses Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, which was nominated in 2013 as Rodeo Stock Contractor of the Year at the national level and owns the legendary bucking horse Dirty Jacket. David feels that changing along with the changing times will keep contestant levels – which will top 600 this year – high.
“This is the largest PRCA rodeo on Memorial Day weekend,” says Petty. The Will Rogers Stampede kicks off on Friday night at 8 p.m., with the competition continuing Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. In addition, there will be “slack performances” for extras on Friday morning at 8 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m.
“The rodeo continues to have strong community influence and ties. We use the last night as a memorial to past Will Rogers Stampede participants and those who have helped in the past,” says Petty. “Last year, we honored Clem McSpadden, Clem Rogers, and Will Rogers.” He points out that area cowboy churches have gotten involved in the Sunday segment, giving musical performances and offering free admission to those who come to the late Sunday afternoon church service and are still there for the 7:30 p.m. opening.
As the premier sanctioning body in rodeo, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) crowns its world champions every season at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. For decades, Will Rogers Stampede has been affiliated with ProRodeo, and many legendary world champions have won in Claremore. “The ‘who’s who’ list of national champions who have won the title in Claremore is too long to mention, but includes such legends as Jim Shoulders, Donnie Gay and Trevor Brazile,” adds Petty.
For discount advance tickets, go to www.willrogersstampede.com .
For more information, contact