Changes coming to annual rodeo in Poteau

The name change of a local annual event has caused a stir among the residents of Poteau and the surrounding area but even though the name has changed it will not be forgotten. The announcement that the 2012 rodeo held at the LeFlore County Fairgrounds would now be hailed the Poteau Frontier Rodeo rather than the Phil Gardenhire PRCA Rodeo. But the management behind the decision would like to assure those who attend the rodeo, while the name has returned to it's original state of decades ago, Gardenhire will continue to be memorialized nightly during the event.“The namesake, Gardenhire, will be remembered each night during the 13th annual Poteau PRCA Rodeo held inside the Phil Gardenhire Memorial Arena. The event will remain the same and that includes the memorial scholarships awarded annually.” said Lisa Bailey, manager of the event. Not only has a name change occurred, the date of the event has changed as well. The Rodeo will take place May 25 and 26 with the hopes the date change entices more top national contestants to participate. 
“The Old Fort Day's Rodeo will begin in Fort Smith the following Monday and the futurities will be occurring over the weekend,” said Bailey. “We expect to see an increase in barrell racers since they can hit both the futurities and the Poteau Frontier Rodeo during the same time frame.” Previously the Poteau Chamber of Commerce hosted the Phil Gardenhire PRCA Rodeo but this year it will not be so. 
“The timing is not right for the Chamber,” said Karen Wages, C.E.O. Of the Poteau Chamber of Commerce. “We have many volunteers who have assisted us in past rodeo's and we don't feel it's right to ask them to give up Memorial Day weekend, their first holiday of the summer.”According to Bailey, the economic impact for Poteau and surrounding areas will be good. She expects a much larger turnout and the contestants will need food, fuel and supplies which will bring economic benefit to the local businesses. Another new event will take place during the Poteau Frontier Rodeo – The “Girl of the Frontier” Royalty contest. The contest is open to female contestants ages 13 – 19. The Girl of the Frontier will represent the Poteau Frontier Rodeo during her reign. She will promote the Eastern Oklahoma / Western Arkansas region and the rodeo by making appearances within the region and out of town. The contestants will be judged on horsemanship, appearance, ticket sales, speech and interview. The winner will be awarded a saddle, bouquet, sash and hat adornment.Daivd Bailey Rodeo will once again be the rodeo stock contractor / producer for this years event. Not only will you see some of the finest nationally recognized livestock in the country, NFR featured entertainer John Harrison, of Soper, Okla., PRCA feature Announcer Tim Fuller, and the No Fear High Flying cowboy protectors Kylie Lippencott and Kevin Pitts will keep the crowd entertained throughout the event. The nickle drop for children ages five and under will be hosted nightly by KTCS and Mutton Bustin for children age six and under will also be held during the rodeo. So if you want to see bullriders, broncriders, barrell racers and team ropers galore, visit the Poteau Frontier Rodeo on May 25 and 26. Tickets will be available May 2. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the gate, $5 for children 12 and under and children three and under get in free. According to Bailey, the box seats are still the best location for the entire event. For further information about the rodeo or tickets you can contact the Poteau Chamber of Commerce.