A plan to replace the 25-year-old bucking chutes at the Jim Shoulders Living Legends rodeo arena was presented to the Henryetta Economic Development Authority (HEDA) Monday morning.
Rodeo committee head Mark Hiatt said the existing bucking chutes, “are worn out,” and presented some problems during the rodeo this past weekend.
The plan calls for four new all steel chutes and gates and would replace the six currently in use. That would also entail the addition of a folding walkway behind the chutes for stock workers and five gates to more efficiently move the stock.chutes
The project, including removal of the existing chutes, welding and dirt work is projected to be $28,700.
That work would also be an enhancement for the upcoming Labor Day rodeo which, for the first time, would be sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PCRA).
“The impact of being sanctioned by the PRCA is a big deal,” he told HEDA members. “It gets us to the level of rodeo that Jim Shoulders would be in. Terry Don West won two of his world championships in the PCRA.”
That PRCA sanction would also allow the rodeo to have access to major corporate sponsors adding to the money available to pay contestants. Because there wold be more money available, Hiatt said the number and quality of rodeo contestants would be improved. “If we have a better event, we provide fans with more entertainment for their dollar.”
He pointed out that Henryetta and Oklahoma is part of the PRCA Prarie circuit but, because of the location, would also be drawing contestants from the Southeast and Texas circuits. “We will be getting NFR qualifiers for our rodeo,” he added.
Even though the rodeos are conducted through the Henryetta Chamber of Commerce, the arena and all the facilities at Nichols Park belong to the city of Henryetta. Since the rodeos began over 25 years ago, the chamber has made a number of improvements ranging from lighting to work on the stock pens and added new bleachers this past year.
Hiatt projected the PRCA sanction would attract more people to town to participate in and watch the rodeos. “They, in theory, will spend money for gas and at the restaurants.”
Unanimously approved by the HEDA members, the request will be going before the city council at the June 18 meeting.