By: Tom Fink | Category: Rogers County | Issue: May 2022
After pleasing crowds for more than three-quarters of a century, drawing contestants from across the state, region and country, and being named by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Woman’s Rodeo Association (WRPA) as Small Rodeo of the Year, what’s next for the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo?
“If anything, the rodeo has grown – it’s grown in popularity among contestants, which we’ve been seeing an increase in those coming to compete every year – last year, we had 745 (contestants) which was a record number for us,” said Tanya Andrews, executive director, Visit Claremore. “It has consistently grown, and with the PRCA, the Stampede Rodeo was consistently in the ‘small rodeo’ category, until this year, when we’ll be moving up into the ‘medium’ category for the first time in this rodeo’s history.”
While in the “small rodeo” category, the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo was named six times (out of being nominated seven times) as Small Rodeo of the Year, but with the rodeo’s new classification, this means “bigger and better things” for both contestants and attendees, Andrews said.
“No. 1, I think this shows (rodeo) contestants that we are a serious contender in the PRCA circuit, as going from the small to medium classification, we’ve been able to add prize money,” she said. “We’re staying consistent in dates, times, etc. but when a contestant is having to choose which rodeos to compete in, the medium-sized rodeos simply offer more than the small rodeos do, and as such, we’re casting a wider net to attract a much broader assortment of potential new contestants.”
The new classification for the rodeo similarly means increased interest from potential vendors, sponsors and attendees.
“Even with the new categorization, the rodeo will still have great entertainment, all the great performances – the bull-riding, saddle broncs, barrel racing, etc.,” she said. “We won’t be having a concert after the rodeo this year, but instead, we’re partnering with Claremore Main Street to have some activities at Boots on the Boulevard (monthly food truck event) May 26, at which, we’ll have live entertainment and a street dance in downtown Claremore.”
In addition to the rodeo itself, the arena also has seen improvements in recent years.
“The property owners, the Rodeo Arena Cooperative, have put significant time and money into significant infrastructure improvements,” she said. “Among these improvements, we’ve recently connected the bathrooms to the city sewer line, which was long-overdue as, for 75 years, the sewer lines (at the rodeo grounds) had been on septic. Before connecting to city utilities, the restrooms weren’t able to handle the capacity because of the crowds, which meant we would have to bring in porta-potties during events.”
Further improvements planned for the rodeo arena are new bathrooms, a new concession stand, additional parking, and a new shelter to serve as the hospitality area, with “great interest” in private parties who are wanting to assist the cooperative toward helping upgrade the property to its full potential.
“With the growth of the rodeo over the past decade, it’s really turned into more of a destination event – people are coming here from all over the state, and many from outside the state,” she said.
When asked what distinguishes the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo from similar events across the state, Andrews said it was the people.
“When we look at the heritage of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo and the people who’ve been involved in it, those who have been active in helping to put it on, whether through volunteering or helping to put it on, the consistency for those contestants is important,” she said. “The contestants know they can call the rodeo organizers and they’ll be helped. There’s a great camaraderie of people from the community, people who have come together over the last couple of years to help make this event possible.”
Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo will be held May 26 through May 29 at the Will Rogers Stampede Arena, 13601 East 480 Road in Claremore.
For more information about the 2022 Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, call 918-342-5357, email eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 or visit www.willrogersstampede.com
13601 E 480 Rd | Claremore, OK 74017
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