story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
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Meet the Committee: Ada Fireman’s Rodeo
By Lindsay Whelchel
When it comes to putting on a rodeo, teamwork for a rodeo committee is paramount.
But when you’re a firefighter, the idea of teamwork takes on even greater importance.
“The committee work helps us build up our ability to work together even more. As a firefighter you depend on these guys with your life, and we’re pretty good at working with each other and knowing responsibilities, how if one person doesn’t pull their weight it affects the whole team, so this just reiterates what we do every day anyway,” explains Sam Smith, chairman of the Ada Firemen’s Rodeo which is a rodeo with a long history, that is also newly the Southern Region Tour Finals Rodeo for the International Professional Rodeo Association.
Sam and his fellow firefighters put on the rodeo in Ada, Okla. to benefit the firehouse and serve as the year-end finale for the Southern Region in the IPRA.
The proceeds of the event go toward the firehouse’s ability to, not only attend additional training opportunities, but also help out injured firefighters from near and far, as well as other charitable endeavors.
The rodeo itself began as one of the largest outdoor rodeos in the world in the 1920s and was eventually run up until World War Two by the fire department. It then changed hands a few times over the years and was re-ignited (no pun intended) by the D.A.R.E. program before Smith and his firemen crew took over responsibilities a few years ago.
The 2015 SRTF marks the rodeo as a new finale event and only its second year to be held in the Ada Agriplex. It’s an event that’s beneficial not just for the contestants of the IPRA but the town of Ada as a whole.
“To be able to bring a rodeo of this caliber into Ada is amazing. Sam and the firefighters did a great job putting everything together. We’re just proud to be part of it,” says Larry Cluff, general manager of Mid-America Auto Group, the rodeo’s presenting sponsor.
Sam echoes this sentiment in regard to the economic impact.
“Anytime you bring 85-90 contestants into town and their families, and they’re staying two nights and of course they’re eating out. The impact there at the Agriplex, and then you’ve got the people that come in to watch the rodeo, [is large].”
Sam took the lead as chairman of the committee because he has a background working for rodeo companies, but he’s quick the credit the large amount of work done by his fellow committeemen.
One member of the committee for instance has a graphic design background and helped create all of their fliers, billboards and the arena’s covered wagon that paraded the event champions around.
“He’s probably spent 240 hours on that in the last 2 and a half months. We’ve had quite a few people who have sold ads for the program, sponsorships.”
Of the 30-man team, around 10 guys handle most of the pre-rodeo tasks and everyone else pitches in come show time.
The effort doesn’t go unnoticed, especially by a few notable past IPRA world champs who attended the rodeo. Sam received word that the men were really impressed with the job done.
“That meant a lot. Those guys that had done it their whole lives thought enough of it that they actually talked about it,” Sam says.
When it comes to the team behind the finished product, they might not all come from rodeo backgrounds, but they’re used to pitching in and helping others whatever way they can, so the rodeo’s success comes as no surprise.