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Roping, Riding, Retweeting: Rodeo Kids



Timeless Silhouettes Encircle The Rodeo Arena: slim men atop fences, boot heels hooked on the rail below. Straight-backed cowgirls, gliding astride mounts with braided manes. Lassos flying up and out in the fading light as ropers work on their release.

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At the 2014 International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, competitors adhere to tradition. Events begin with a salute to the U.S. Constitution and riders presenting the American flag during the performance of the national anthem. Western dress is required in the competition area. Back numbers must be worn at all times.

But a closer look reveals a new scene.

Beneath cowboy hats, heads often tilt down as if in prayer. Shadowed riders reach again and again for their pockets, digging out devices. Gleaming rectangles are cradled in rein-holding hands. Friends pull up on horses, gathering around the glowing screens like a high-tech campfire.

They are checking their messages. Sending texts. Watching video. Riding while talking on the phone. Just like any other teenagers. Over the loudspeakers, the announcers’ patter dwells on branding that is more corporate than cattle.

Three miles outside the rodeo parking lot – east on West Independence Street, then south on North Center – is the grave of Brewster Higley, who penned the lyrics to “Home on the Range.” Beyond the glare of the arena lights, his vision of a laconic American cowboy riding alone with his thoughts seems as nostalgic and far away as a home where the buffalo roam.

 

Rodeo Riches Await

For the past 22 years, hundreds of high school rodeo competitors descend on Shawnee’s Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center to compete in 10 events each July: cowgirl barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping and goat tying; co-ed team roping; and cowboy calf roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding.

The prizes offered at the International Finals Youth Rodeo are beyond the traditional championship saddles and buckles. Billed as the world’s richest youth rodeo, total prize money at last year’s IFYR topped $225,000.

Competitors invest in horses, training, gear, RVs and stock trailers, and are responsible for entry fees ($100 per competitor, per event), stall rentals ($110 each) and camping ($200 per spot). The payoff can be huge: in addition to the prize money, teens may attract rodeo sponsors to help underwrite expenses, or catch the eye of coaches from one of the 100 collegiate rodeo teams.

Unlike college sports operating under NCAA or NAIA guidelines, rodeo riders do not have to maintain their amateur status. Prize money has been encouraged since rodeo became a collegiate sport 65 years ago, in 1949, and many compete simultaneously on the college and pro circuits.

In addition to enriching the winners, the IFYR is an economic boon for Pottawatomie County, which credits the event with bringing in $5.4 million each year.

Of Jaxon and Mackie, Winter and Sage

The most popular names at the 2014 IFYR, which featured 879 competitors from 26 states: Colt and its variations for boys and Cheyenne for girls. Also featured were cowboy names worthy of a Western novel, such as Ryder Gann, Clint Craig, Skee Burkes, Baize Bowers, Rusty Rhodes, Pace Blanchard, Rowdy McFall, Sonny Scott, Clay Boaz, Rocky Dill, Twister Vinson and Blue Wilcox. Cowgirl names have become more adventuresome, and can embody the same nonchalant ruggedness. A sampler of this year’s rodeo cowgirls:

Mackie Ford - Clinton, OK // Jordan Outlaw - Bonha, TX
Winter Williams - Copan, OK // Paxton Nix - McAlester, OK
Skylar Eagles - Monte Vista, CO // Timber Lyon - Perrin, TX
Cedar Jandreau - Kennebec, SD // Ashton Finch - Mendenhall, MS
Carson Denning - Four Oaks, NC // Raleigh Whitfield - Sulphur, LA
Jaxon Shultz - Abilene, TX // Hagen Brunson - Guymon, OK
Tyler Larson - Richardson, TX // Tallen Halliday - Lipan, NC
Fallon Ratliff - Live, FL // Scout Smith - Smithville, OK
Reece Buckmaster - Weatherford, OK // Hunter Haley - Portales, NM
Quincy Segelke - Snyder, CO // Brogan Macy - Post, TX
Shelby Weaver - Sand Springs, OK // Sage Vincent - Boise City, OK
Laramie Girty - Porum, OK // Tillar Murray - Fort Worth, TX
Rickie Engesser - Spearfish, SD // Brayden Wood - Oklahoma City, OK
Campbell Grover - Purvis, MS // Bet Langley - Houston, MS
Sloan Anderson - Whitehorse, SD // Kadan Gravitt - Soper, OK

 

Siblings often join forces for the calf-roping competition, the rodeo’s only co-ed event. This year’s most alliterative team names:

Cutler & Casey Barnes - Maybell, CO // Sierra & Sterling White - Happy, TX
Dalton & Dawson Turner - Sidney, AR // Tanner & Tyler Jarrett - Ada, OK
Jake & Judson South - Albuquerque, NM // Chantz & Clint Webster - Lipan, TX
Jarrett & Justin Briggs - Madison, FL // Trevor & Trey Nowlin - Casa Grande, AZ
Carlee Sue & Cassie Kay McGuinn - Denton, TX // Ean & Ethan Price - Leedey, OK

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Editor’s Note: This is the 20th installment in a continuing series as author and photographer M.J. Alexander chronicles her travels across the state of Oklahoma.

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
Website »

More information

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
Website »

More information

A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
Website »

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