By: Jim Butcher | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: May 2015
Legendary Mexican rope artist Tomas Garcilazo will be performing at the 69th annual Will Rogers Stampede Rodeo in Claremore May 22-24.
It wasn’t too long ago when ever boy in America wanted to grow up and be a cowboy. And while there aren’t too many cowboy and western movies being produced, that dream still exists in some and one of the ways ‘we get an inside look at some aspects of that way of life” is the rodeo.
Rodeos were based on the skills required by working cowboys, in what today is the western United States, western Canada, and northern Mexico. Today it is a sporting event that involves horses and other livestock, designed to test the skill and speed of the cowboys and cowgirls.
American style professional rodeos generally comprise the following events: tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. The events are divided into two basic categories: the rough stock events and the timed events. Depending on sanctioning organization and region, other events such as breakaway roping, goat tying, or pole bending may also be a part of some rodeos.
In Oklahoma rodeos have been and continue to be a most important part of life and the forthcoming Will Rogers Stampede Rodeo in Claremore is one of the biggest and best, having been named the 2014 PRCA Rodeo of the Year.
The 69th edition is scheduled for Memorial Weekend – May 22 - 24 – with something for the entire family, says Dave Petty, chairman of this year’s event, and who grew up in Ponca City and Osage County with the cowboy way of life in his blood.
He readily admits riding a horse, learning to rope at a very early age, and competing in riding bulls and roping was a great way to grow up and appreciate this way of life.
Very few today can claim that they were taught how to rope by a legend. At a very early age David learned from Mike Sokoll, a veteran 101 Ranch Rodeo performer, who lived in Ponca City and was 88 years old, at the time, Sokoll was with the original 101 Ranch Wild West Show from 1909-1915.
David is a safety specialist for an Oklahoma natural gas gathering and processing company, and he owns a cow-calf operation north of Chelsea and raises quarters horses.
He admits he “married into” the Will Rogers Stampede Association, as his wife’s grandparents were charter members of the original Round Up Club. His commitment to preserving the heritage of this nearly 69-year-old event goes well behind that of a typical in-law. “This is the largest running event in Rogers County next to Will Rogers Days,” he points out. “And I want to help keep that tradition going.”
Petty believes that the rodeo offers high quality, family entertainment at a fair price. “You work hard for your money and you need to get your dollar’s worth.”
He notes that “where else can you get a night of great family entertainment, fun for the whole family... two adults and two children for only $35? You can’t beat it. And we offer several good package deals. Best to check our website – willrogersstampede.com – and get an overview of the event. We also have a Facebook page.”
Celebrating God and country is another important aspect of this rodeo, Petty said. “On Sunday we provide Cowboy Church Services and those who attend can get into the rodeo on Sunday at no charge.”
One of the key acts is Tomas Garcilazo is a native of Mexico, where he began learning “Floreo de Reata” (rope artistry) at a very early age, as he was being raised in his family tradition and heritage of La Charreria.
This richly developed skill is performed by Charros, who take extreme pride in their horsemanship and roping abilities. “I’m sure the whole family will enjoy watching Tomas’ artistry... I do very much,” Petty said.
Having been a part of this particular event for many years, “I know that it requires at lot of hard work by a lot of volunteers. And I know you will enjoy if you attend. Let’s make this our greatest year ever.”
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Jim Butcher is a retired, award-winning newspaperman who continues to write as a freelance writer and photographer. He owned the Tulsa Front Page weekly and was executive editor to Neighbor Newspapers' 13 metro newspapers. Currently, he writes for Value News and has become a paid assignment screenwriter, along with a University of Oklahoma professor who wrote Brad Pitt's first feature film. His award-winning screenplay is on the historical Osage Indian Murders of the 1920s.