story by Siri Stevens photos by Jake Hodnett/Jake Brakes Pics Jake Hodnett started taking rodeo pictures after his dad, Jim Hodnett, asked for help at […]
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Meet the Rodeo Committee The Great Salt Plains Stampede Rodeo
story by Siri Stevens
The Great Salt Plains Stampede Rodeo will take place at the Alfalfa County Fairgrounds, located in Cherokee, Oklahoma, (120 miles northwest of Oklahoma City) on August 26 and 27. The Great Salt Plains Lake is east Cherokee and covers 8,690 acres, with 41 miles of shoreline. The shallow, salty lake has catfish, saugeye, sandbass, and hybrid striper, along with campgrounds and cabins. “It’s one of the few places you can still dig salt crystals, and you can dig salt crystals here,” said Mary Pat Cudmore.
This is the 24th continuous year for the rodeo. The rodeo started sometime in the 1950s by the Cherokee Roundup Club. It stopped for several years until three families, all involved in rodeo, started it again in 1993. Those three families are still involved, with the support of lots of others that have come and gone through the years. “When we started, we used to hand paint the signs with stencils,” said Mary Pat Cudmore, who moved to Cherokee from South Dakota in 1983. “I have lots of help; Gina Wagh and Lisa Chace; and our husbands, who run the stripping chutes.” Mary Pat helps with the queen contest, concessions, and ticket sales.” We have the best queen contest in Northwest Oklahoma. There are 12 contestants this year trying for either queen, who wins a saddle, breast collar, buckles, etc, princess, or junior princess.”
The Roundup Club produces six Play Days through the summer for kids 19 and under. “We have our rodeo to make money for those rodeo prizes,” said Lisa Chace, lifetime resident of Cherokee who works at Farmers Exchange Bank, and has been on the committee for 24 years. “My dad did it before us – it used to be a Carpenter Show, Norman Carpenter. They let it go, and two of us that are doing it now – our folks were involved. The other three or four families that we recruited were rodeo people and had kids involved.”
This is the first year the rodeo is a KPRA first approved. The rodeo has so many contestants that slack often lasts all night. “We give lots of prizes along with cash for the contestants and we are 20 miles from Northwestern; those college kids are just coming back to school and want to rodeo.” Along with the rodeo, there is a parade and an event that the kids love. “Dash for Cash is for kids ten and under. We put all kinds of things on the arena floor from cash to caps to gift certificates all donated from the businesses in town. Around 100 kids run out there and gather it all up.” The facility has added an indoor arena. “We can move the rodeo indoors if we have to.”