Governor expected to visit Pawhuska for rodeo event

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital
Gov. Kevin Stitt intends to participate in the grand entrance of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association ranch rodeo in June.

The executive director of Osage County Tourism last week told county commissioners that she had learned Gov. Kevin Stitt intends to participate in the grand entrance for a rodeo performance in the Pawhuska area in June.

Tourism executive director Kelly Bland explained to the Journal-Capital that she received word prior to the April 19 meeting of the county commissioners that Stitt had agreed to make the appearance on horseback and post the U.S. flag.

“I thought that was about as good as it gets,” Bland said, adding that Pawhuska businessman Cody Garnett had passed the word to her. “I’m extremely excited about it.”

“This is not the first time he’s done it,” Bland said, in regard to Stitt taking part in a rodeo performance by posting the U.S. flag. The governor previously did the same thing during an opening ceremony for a rodeo performance in Guthrie, she said.

Stitt posted the U.S. flag during an August 2020 Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo opening ceremony in Guthrie. He was joined in that appearance by the state’s secretary of agriculture.

The anticipation of Stitt’s appearance at the Saturday, June 19, Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA) ranch rodeo performance adds another element to plans for Cattlemen’s Week in Pawhuska, which is being rebranded as Ben Johnson Days.

Ben Johnson Days will run from June 16-20 (Wednesday through Sunday). In keeping with established expectations, it will feature the annual Osage County Cattlemen’s Association Luncheon on Friday, and the OCCA Ranch Tour early Saturday. The Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping competition on Father’s Day is also a staple of the Cattlemen’s Week lineup.

Among the events added this year as elements of the Ben Johnson Days rebranding are WRCA Ranch Rodeo performances on Friday and Saturday nights, June 18 and 19, and the newly minted John Israel Cowboy Trade Show, which will begin Friday at the Osage County Fairgrounds and continue Saturday.

The Constantine Theater, in downtown Pawhuska, is expected to participate in Ben Johnson Days by hosting an art show and sale from Wednesday to Friday, and by offering a movie and dinner on Saturday afternoon with award-winning actor Barry Corbin.

Cody Garnett, owner of the Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum, said he had worked on the possibility of Stitt coming to Osage County for Ben Johnson Days and is excited about the confirmation.

“I think it’s a pretty big deal to have the governor come to your event,” Garnett said. “He’s bringing the whole family, so we’re real proud.”

Garnett said he anticipated Stitt’s appearance during Ben Johnson Days would draw other Oklahoma public officials to the week of festivities, as well.

“They need to be out and about, talking to the citizens they represent,” Garnett said.

Tickets for WRCA Ranch Rodeo performances will be $10 at the gate, but advance tickets will be available at the Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum for $8.50.