Written by: Ruth Nicolaus< Back to Articles
Hammon family enjoys Elk City rodeo tradition
Elk City, Okla. (August 14, 2017) – Wes Harden has rarely missed a night of the Elk City rodeo for the past seven decades.
Ever since 1943, when he was about seven years old, he’s been coming to Ackley Park for the Rodeo of Champions.
And since then, the Hammon, Okla. man has missed only once, and for a good reason: his wedding.
Wes, who also goes by the nickname “Big Man,” farms west of Hammon and went with his parents Wesley and Marie Harden, to the rodeo as a kid. And he never stopped going.
During his high school days, in the 1950s, as a member of the Hammon Round-Up Club, he did some tie-down roping and steer wrestling. Then later, in the 1970s, he helped with the annual PRCA rodeo held Memorial Day weekend and hosted by the Round-Up Club.
On August 31, 1960, he married a girl from Camargo, Jane, the same day as his parents and his sister’s wedding day. Some years, the Elk City rodeo, which is always held on Labor Day weekend, falls on their anniversary. If it does, it’s their treat to each other; attending the rodeo together.
Since the new arena was built in the 1950s, the Harden family has sat in boxes number 18, 19 and 20, on the west side of the arena, about at the forty-five-yard-line. Elra Beutler, granddad to Bennie Beutler, of Beutler and Son Rodeo, became friends with Wes when the Beutlers leased land adjacent to the Harden place. Back then, in the 1950s and ‘60s, county roads were dirt, not gravel, and when the Beutlers came to load horses, Elra would call Wesley and ask if he had a tractor handy, so they could get in and out. Being neighbors, Wesley would have a tractor to pull the trucks out so the Beutlers could load horses for a rodeo. Elra helped Wesley and Marie get the box seats, and they’ve had them ever since.
Wes and Jane and their kids: Fred and Chantel, Fred’s wife Carolyn, and Chantel’s husband Rodney Fish, join them, as do the four grandkids. And if they can’t, Wes invites friends.
The Elk City rodeo isn’t the only one that Wes and Jane have gone to. They’ve been to Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days five or six times, the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up, and when the National Finals Rodeo was held in Oklahoma City, Wes never missed a year of it. He’s been to the NFR in Las Vegas once, too.
He’s seen plenty of changes in the sport, and loves watching all of it, especially the tie-down roping.
And this year, when the Rodeo of Champions kicks off, the Hardens will be in their seats.
Tickets for the Elk City Rodeo of Champions go on sale August 21 at Doug Gray Dodge (1521 East Third Street in Elk City – 580.225.3005) and at Circle A Western Wear (3000 West Third Street in Elk City – 580.224.7363.) Box seats, chute seats and sky box tickets are available at Doug Gray Dodge only.
Bleacher seats are $11 for adults and $9 for children ages 6-12. Bleacher seat tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more.
Grandstand tickets are $15; at the gate, they are $18. There is no discount for children in the grandstand seats.
The rodeo is September 1-3 at Beutler Bros. Arena at Ackley Park in Elk City. For more information, visit the website at ElkCityRodeo.com or call Doug Gray Dodge at 580.225.3005.