This year marked the 15th year of the Green Country Classic Ranch Rodeo (GCCRR). It has been held annually to embrace the ideals of ranching cowboys who maintain full-time employment as ranch hands, and compete in a number of events designed to demonstrate abilities in roping, bronc riding, team penning, cattle branding, wild cow milking, and similar ranch skills. When the organizers suggested they would hold a yearly regional competition that would send the reigning Championship Team to compete in the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Finals, in Amarillo, Texas, they never dreamed the rodeo would last fifteen years; but it did. Promoters like Lester and Becky Gagan, Shannon and Clayton Adcock, Jerry and Barbie Wright, Hannah Bode, Courtney Gagan, and others, representing years of family ranching traditions, found it almost impossible to avoid holding another rodeo, year after year after year. But, this year, knowing they would be celebrating a major milestone, the group made a hard decision to hang it up, while their event was still revered as one of the most successful rodeos in the Nation.
The Green Country Classic was much more than a Ranch Rodeo, for it pitted teams of five to six cowboys, sometimes as many as over 20 teams, in head to head events that included remarkable horses, individual ranching talent, and even an occasional wreck or two, in a competitive arena that included all kinds of livestock. With as many as 18 sanctioned Ranch Rodeos throughout the Country, most teams set their sights on Claremore, because it offered lots of individual and team prizes, coupled with amazing bragging rights.
But what the Adcocks, the Gagans, and the Wrights endorsed, was more than anything ordinary. For while they provided an extraordinary rodeo experience, their pursuit in helping other people in the community, was always at the forefront. One of the organizations being supported by the Annual GCCRR, was the Working Ranch Cowboys Foundation Crisis Fund, established as a means to provide financial and other types of assistance to working ranch cowboys and their families who are suffering significant hardship and who are not otherwise able to provide for their immediate needs. The same Crisis Fund is used to help ranchers impacted by natural disasters, as a result of blizzards, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires. And, the Foundation is also supporting college scholarships for energizing youth whose parents derive a significant portion of their income from taking care of cattle on a working cattle ranch.
The Annual Green Country Classic Ranch Rodeo has made rodeo teams like, Haywire Cattle Company of El Dorado, Kansas, Barron-Highsmith and Short Ranches, representing Oologah and Ramona, Drummond Land and Cattle Company of Shidler, Snyder and XIT Ranches of Texas, Sooner and Chamber Cattle Companies of Pawhuska, Buford Ranches of Craig County, Whitmire Land and Cattle Company of Nowata, Beachner Brothers Livestock of St. Paul, Kansas, and Cobb Ranch of Ramona, legends in the working rodeo circuit. As this year's most recent event was held in July, the curtain came down on a legacy that has brought invaluable recognition to the spirit of the American Cowboy. And, in true form, the entire group of original promoters were not finished until they completed one last endearing gesture to the community they so highly represent.
When custom spur maker, Mike Emberson of Nowata (OK), approached the GCCRR Board of Directors, and "gifted" them a pair of beautifully hand-crafted and personally designed boot spurs, valued at over $500, they began looking for just the right organization to donate the spurs to. And, that's when they came up with one of the most amazing benefits ever imagined. Since its inception in 2013, the Rogers County Sheriff's Office Mounted Patrol has continued to provide service to Rogers and surrounding counties, through its combined Search and Rescue efforts. The members provide their own horses, trailers, transportation, and other resources. Lester Gagan and others on the GCCRR Board, knowing the generosity of those volunteer auxiliary deputies, decided to hold a live auction at the very last performance of their Ranch Rodeo. What occurred that evening can only be described as inspirational, for that one set of custom spurs was purchased and donated back to the "Live Auction", three separate times! That's right, three different bidders purchased the spurs, and told the auctioneer, "Accept my bid as a donation, and sell them (the spurs) again!". When all the bidding was over, four different bids, including the one made by the entire Board of the Green Country Classic Ranch Rodeo, who closed out the auction, provided a combined total donation of $9,000 to support future Mounted Patrol initiatives. Among those contributing several thousands of dollars, each time the bidding stopped, included, Joe Don Eaves, owner of Tulsa Stockyards, Dale Peterson, owner of Welch (OK) Livestock Auction, and Chris Potter, Maple City, Kansas, Rancher. Not to be outdone, the GCCRR Board of Directors not only made the last bid and donated several thousands of dollars to the Sheriff's Deputies, they even donated the custom spurs to the Mounted Team, with specific instructions, "Do whatever you want with these."
In a year that has been plagued by so many different types of challenges, the least of which has centered on the manner in which law enforcement is being portrayed across our nation, what a more fitting tribute of support, as the Green Country Classic Ranch Rodeo rides out in true cowboy style. Their assistance was truly, "a hand up, not a hand out".