By Janelle Walker
Every Fourth of July, the small city of Oakley, Utah puts its name on the map by hosting one of the biggest rodeos in the country.
The 68th annual Oakley Rodeo is being held from July 2-5 with an expected 20,800 visitors to attend the four sold out shows.
“It”s tradition that we have a celebration and the rodeo is the spotlight of that celebration,” said Gerald Young, chairman of the Oakley Rodeo Committee.
The community is an essential part to putting on the rodeo, according to Young, who has been involved with the event for 50 years.
“We depend on the community for help to do all of our activities and celebrations,” Young said. “They support it really well.”
Oakley Rodeo is part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, attracting national attention every year.
This year, PRCA world champions, Lan LaJuenesse, Blue Stone and Clint Robinson will be in attendance.
The rodeo includes bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, bull dogging (steer wrestling), calf roping, barrel racing, a fireworks show, and intermittent clown acts.
On July 4, 2003 there will be a parade and a special children”s rodeo.
“The rodeo is different from other rodeos because the arena is smaller, said Wade Woolstenhulme, Oakley Rodeo committee member and rodeo bull fighting judge. “The crowd is right on top of the action and excitement.”
Dan Litchfield, a senior majoring in economics recently attended his first rodeo at Strawberry Days in Pleasant Grove
“Just being there with the crowd and feeling the energy was awesome,” Litchfield said.
Litchfield is now planning to attend more rodeos in the future.
Allison Scott, long-time Oakley resident said the rodeo really draws the community together.
“All the youth go out and clean the rodeo grounds and paint the bleachers. It”s really neat to see.”
In a city of about only one thousand residents, the national attention also helps the community.
“It makes the city better known,” Scott said. “Oakley has a lot to offer besides the rodeo, but the rodeo opens up an awareness for all that.”