Chisholm Trail committee steps into action to bring championship to town
DUNCAN, Okla. – The intent is simple: Provide high quality entertainment to its community while providing a championship home for some of the greatest athletes in this part of the country.
That’s exactly what the Chisholm Trail committee is doing by hosting the 2012 Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center.
“When this committee first got together, we agreed to sign a one-year contract with the circuit finals, and we would also like the first right of refusal for the following three years,” said Joe Henderson, the group’s chairman. “Our intent, if it’s possible, is that we would like to give the Prairie Circuit Finals a home.
“We believe that for the sponsorship, the PRCA and contestants that it’s a quality enough event and a quality enough production that not only does the community get something out of it, but also the contestants and the PRCA. We want it to be a win-win situation for everybody.”
That’s quite possible, especially the way the three days of entertainment is stacking up. In addition to hosting the top 12 qualifiers from the Prairie Circuit’s regular season, the event will feature top-name regional music acts Jason Boland and the Stragglers and No Justice, both Red Dirt music bands that bring a strong Oklahoma flavor to the Expo Center.
Ticket prices are set up to be attractive for rodeo fans, concert-goers and others who want to enjoy a few hours of high-quality fun: Thursday’s show is $15 for adults, $10 for children 4-10 with kids 3 and younger admitted free; the only change for the concerts is that adult tickets are $25.
“We really want to make this a special deal for years to come,” Henderson said. “We wanted to keep the ticket prices in a range that everyone can enjoy the show and still get the type of entertainment they want.”
That’s getting the most bangs for the entertainment dollar.
Beyond that, fans will get to see the very best contestants from the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region. In the field scheduled to perform are five cowboys who represent seven world championships: two-time steer wrestling champion Dean Gorsuch of Gering, Neb.; two-time steer roping champ Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan.; 2008 bareback riding titlist Justin McDaniel of Porum, Okla.; 2005 all-around world champion Ryan Jarrett of Comanche, Okla.; and 2009 heeling champ Kollin VonAhn of Durant, Okla.
“We know we have tremendous rodeo talent in our area, and I think the fans are going to be excited by all they’re going to get to see,” Henderson said.
In addition to the gold buckle winners, there are 20 other regional stars who have played on the biggest stages in ProRodeo, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. The Prairie Circuit’s region has long been home to some of the greatest names in the sport. Names like Shoulders, Duvall, Etbauer, McBeth, Webster, West, Ward, Berry, Combs, Youree and many others are etched in ProRodeo lore.
But the circuit finale has been looking for a good home. For years, it took place at the Lazy E Arena, then in Kansas City, Mo., during the American Royal. It’s been in two other locales – Park City, Kan., and Weatherford, Okla. – each of the past three seasons.
And that’s where the folks with the Chisholm Trail committee came into play.
“There are a bunch of us who follow rodeo and who keep up with everything that’s going on,” Henderson said. “We’d been talking about the circuit finals and that it needed to have a permanent home, and it just got to the point where we thought that instead of talking about it, we should do something about it.”
The conversation turned into action fairly quickly, and the committee was formed. Since then, the group has gone about making it happen and presenting a true show to fans and providing a true championship to the contestants.
“We want to provide a home for the Prairie Circuit Finals, but we’d also like this to be the largest event that’s held in Duncan every year,” Henderson said.
It’s certainly possible. The format of the circuit finals means regional champions will be crowned in mid-October. Those who win the year-end titles – by earning the most money in the season through the conclusion of the finale – and those who win the average championship with the best cumulative score or time through three go-rounds will earn qualifications to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place next spring in Oklahoma City.
“The concept of it being the 12 best cowboys and cowgirls out of three states in each event is outstanding,” Henderson said. “Those contestants are competing three days in a row, not coming in and moving on as is the case at most rodeos. They will be in our community for several days, eating at our restaurants and shopping in our stores.
“We draw some good cowboys from this part of Oklahoma. The real difference in this rodeo is that we’re getting the best of the best out of three states. They’re going to be here, and the public is going to have the chance to see them and meet them. That’s great for our community.”