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Lawton Rangers Rodeo Queen Alexis Shaver zooms around the arena on her horse during the opening ceremonies at the 76th Annual Rangers Rodeo at the LO Ranch Arena last week. Shaver and Jennifer Phillips, who carried the Oklahoma flag, showed excellent skills on horseback and were one of the eye-catching happenings at this year’s rodeo.

Scribe gives Rangers solid grade for rodeo

Granted, there have been better overall rodeos during the many years that the Lawton Rangers have conducted their annual event, but still this year's 76th Annual version was pretty entertaining and from most accounts, enjoyed by the majority of fans.

So, as has become tradition since 1988 when this writer took over coverage of the Rangers Rodeo, I've tried to put together a summary, or "State of the Rodeo" column to let fans know my thoughts on this year's event and the outlook for the future.

To me, many of the problems with professional rodeo in general is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) itself. In my 26 years of closely covering the rodeo, this marked probably an all-time high in turnouts, instances where the contestant just fails to show up during their scheduled performance.

Here's how these things work. If the contestant calls or emails the rodeo secretary 24 hours or more before the rodeo, they only have to pay a fine of $25 which goes into the coffers of the PRCA.

And that is where just about every committee that produces a rodeo and most stock contractors feel there is a problem. Most everyone agrees that fine should be passed on to the respective rodeo committee for these reasons. First, that committee has to answer when great cowboys fail to show up, like defending world champion bull rider J.W. Harris, who shunned Lawton for reasons unknown to the Rangers or event stock contractor Bennie Beutler.

The committee, in this case the Rangers, is also paying Beutler's company to haul a bull or bronc down here for that rider, plus the committee is paying to feed that animal for up to four or five days, depending on their schedule of truck hauls to the next rodeo or back to their ranch in Elk City.

Beutler is adamant about getting that changed but he sees it going nowhere.

"Last year the two secretaries who work our rodeos put together all the turnout information for the entire season and it was staggering," Beutler said. "They had it all neatly organized on a spreadsheet and we got it to the stock contractor rep on the PRCA board and asked him to present it to the board and see if they could start a dialog on that issue because it just keeps getting worse."

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