More than 600 horses, cowboys and cowgirls are in the River Valley for the Old Fort Days Futurity and Derby.
Competitors from as far away as South America are at Kay Rodgers Park in Fort Smith hoping to win big money in bull riding, barrel racing, and a lot more.
“Everybody comes from Canada and Georgia and there’s Brazilians here, and I mean, you see your whole family here,” said Kinsley Swepston, futurity goer from Vian, Okla.
Timed trials and barrel races began at 8 a.m. Friday, and as the derby goes on, the competition between riders is intense.
“This is where the wolves are,” said Danny Ray, futurity goer from Ada, Okla. “This is the best of the best, this is the grand daddy! You gotta come prepared and get your game face on to go win.”
Canadians at the derby say the hot weather in the River Valley took a toll on their horses.
“Yesterday it snowed in Canada so they still have a furrier coat and the weathers a little harder on them down here,” said Angela Clark Dutton, of Ontario. “It’s a lot hotter.”
Coming out to the rodeo every year is just half the fun. Having $68,000 up for grabs is why people really travel so far.
“It’s a seven-days a week, 24-hour job, you don’t go on vacation,” Swepston said. “I mean, it’s your life. It’s not just a job, it’s your life.”
The futurity finals wrap up at 8 p.m. Saturday (May 25).
The Old Fort Days Rodeo kicks off Monday, May 27 until June 1. For more information visit: http://www.oldfortdaysrodeo.com/