It’s nobody’s first rodeo when it comes to preparing for Cavalcade and soon roping, racing, and cowboy spirit will again fill the Osage County Fairgrounds.
Cavalcade, which boasts the title of World’s Largest Amateur Rodeo, draws contestants from across northeastern Oklahoma and Kansas for the weeklong test of skill. Pawhuska Roundup Club secretary Kate Huddleston said there will be 115 Roundup clubs in attendance and over 1,200 entries for the 71st Cavalcade, set to begin July 17.
Tom Schick, the vice president of Owasso’s Roundup club, has been going to Cavalcade since 1959. The 75-year-old has a lot of Cavalcades under his belt and it runs in the family — his son still participates in Cavalcade and his two grandchildren, who are 10-years-old and younger, have started competing in breakaway roping, poles and barrel racing.
“The Cavalcade, when it first started, really wasn’t a family deal and the Roundup clubs were the same way,” Schick said. “They were mostly composed of men who were ropers. But over the years, it has evolved into a family tradition.”
Cavalcade chariman Jeff Bute will be putting on his 12th rodeo this year. Bute said the multi-generational elements of Cavalcade come from the longevity of Roundup Clubs.
“You have generations of participants, families that have raised their families in these equine-related activities at these Roundup Clubs. Naturally, the Cavalcade sees that same generational attendence as well,” Bute said.
Cavalcade is split between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. performance slots, with other events happening throughout the day. The rodeo’s schedule has timed events, like barrel racing, calf roping, and pony express races in the morning, while the evenings will feature activities like team roping, wild cow milking and bull riding, Huddleston said.
“If you establish some consistency with your guests and your participants, there’s a lot of value in that. At the same time, you have to balance that with a certain amount of change as well, to try to keep it exciting and keep it fresh,” Bute said.
Cavalcade is hosting a new special event this year, which people not associated with a Roundup club can enter: the Osage Outfitter Cavalcade Stampede. The event, also known as stray gathering, will pit 5 teams of 2 cowboys against each other in a race to head, heel, mug down and tie a cow, then race to the finish circle, Huddleston said.
“It gets a few more of our local guys involved,” Huddleston said. “They’re not professional rodeo cowboys, they don’t go to a bunch of rodeos a lot of the time. Most of the time, these guys are working on ranches from our area and this was an event they’re used to doing.”
Stock for Cavalcade will be provided by G Money Rodeo Co., which has provided Cavalcade stock in the past. Bute said Cavalcade is unique because stock contractors play a smaller role in the rodeo’s management.
“When the stock contract comes in, the main thing that we’re after is one, that they’re bringing us quality stock and they’re bringing us healthy stock and they’re willing to take care of them. Outside that, we produce our own show,” Bute said.
The only major change Cavalcaders will notice is a slight increase in evening ticket prices for adults from $8 to $10. Huddleston said the change is still a good price for the show.
“If you were to go to a PRCA or an IRPA rodeo, they’re charging at least $10. We felt like we were providing just as good a show and it’s still affordable for a family to come,” Huddleston said.
Schick said while he didn’t know what draws people to the rodeo, the people you meet during Cavalcade help make the experience positive.
“It brings people together,” Schick said. “It’s rodeo and rodeo is that way. You’ve got a friend who’s a contestant, you help them out; as hard as you try to win, you help them out so that they got a chance to win too. That’s rodeo people.”
Schick said the best way to understand the sport was to come out to watch the rodeo, both in the arena and in the background.
“It’s good for people to see the traditions and the cowboy way of life trying to be preserved,” Schick said.
Cavalcade runs from July 17-23. Tickets for all dance/concerts, all-access armbands and rodeo only armbands are available on Stubwire and all tickets can be purchased with cash at the door.