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June 28, 2014

A good run: 75 years and counting

Pryor Times — “Amateur Rodeo Ass’n. Formed.” That was the headline on the Jan. 19, 1939 Jeffersonian newspaper. The story was about a meeting to establish the 4-Way Rodeo Association.

The meeting was in Salina’s American Legion Hall.

“That’s the reason it was named 4-Way,” Becky Ramsey said. “To draw members from all four directions.” Ramsey’s daddy, Clarence Hammer, Pryor, was elected as the first vice president. Elmer Hadden, Pryor, was elected president. Paul Young, Pryor, was chosen to be secretary-treasurer.

“The plans of the association are to hold five rodeos a year, keeping them strictly amateur,” the article reads. “The membership will include Mayes, Craig, Rogers, Delaware and Wagoner counties. The membership fee is one dollar per year and all contestants must be members...” Contestants from other counties and states were welcome to enter the rodeos by paying the $1 membership fee.

The article says 26 charter members joined the organization, then goes on to list 25 people from area towns. Whether someone miscounted or someone was left out is now a mystery for the ages.

“Except for a couple of years during the war (World War II), it has been continuous,” Ramsey said. One Daily Times article states the club’s money was put into war bonds and that the first rodeo after the war was held in 1946. It does not say what years the rodeo was suspended.

The second meeting was held a week later at Hammer & Sons stockyards, Ramsey’s family business. At this meeting, members decided to incorporate, selling shares to get the money to start putting on rodeos. Certificates for shares were printed and sold at $5 each.

In a 1976 Daily Times article, Haddan said along with Hammer and Young, he wrote “everyone with a horse, inviting them to a meeting to get organized.”

The first rodeo arena was where Pryor High School sets today.

The 4-Way Rodeo has been sanctioned by the nation’s largest amateur association, the International Professional Rodeo Association, for 27 years. So long that the association was named International Rodeo Association when rodeos were first sanctioned at 4-Way.

This year’s rodeo is July 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. nightly. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12.

Last year over 300 contestants entered the rodeo. When more contestants are entered than there are spots in the performances, the overflow contestants compete at another time. This is called slack. Slack for this year’s 4-Way rodeo will be July 3 at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.

Hampton Rodeo Company from Springdale, Ark., will provide the livestock. Hampton’s have been named IPRA stock contractor of the year 16 times.

The rodeo is co-sanctioned with the American Cowboys Rodeo Association and has been named rodeo of the year by that association 11 times.

Veteran announcer Danny Newland will be behind the microphone and Wendy (Ratchford) Lattin will entertain with trick riding.

There will be a calf scramble each night for kids 12 and under along with peewee and junior barrel racing.

Roberts Auto Center will have a truck display and the Wild Turkey Federation will have a BB gun range Saturday night. The first 500 kids on the range will receive an American flag.

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