81st Annual Old Fort Days Rodeo Events Underway

Riders in front of the 5NEWS studio.

Riders in front of the 5NEWS studio.

Old Fort Days Rodeo events are underway in Fort Smith as the rodeo gears up for one of its busiest weeks of the year, according to the rodeo’s website.

The first rodeo took place at Andrews Field, next to the Arkansas River near the Fort Smith downtown area, the rodeo’s website states.

It was held in 1933 and called the “Pawnee Bill Rodeo.” It featured the real Pawnee Bill from Pawnee, Okla. The cost of entry to the rodeo was 65¢, and records show attendance was high. 

To view a complete history of the Old Fort Days Rodeo, click here. 

On Monday morning (May 26), the Old Fort Days Rodeo Parade was held, and Monday night is officially titled “Wrangler National Patriot Night” at the rodeo.

Events start at 5 p.m. at the rodeo with the “Muttin’ Bustin’ Qualifying Event” at Kay Rodgers Park.

At 5:30 p.m. Choctaw Casino stage performances start, and finally, at 7 p.m., the opening performance of the 81st Annual Old Fort Days Rodeo begins at Harper Stadium – Kay Rodgers Park.

The evening will be spent honoring veterans, with special guest World War II Veteran Bennie Raush and Miss Arkansas Amy Crain singing the national anthem.

Several other events will take place every night this week until the rodeo officially ends Saturday evening (May 31), according to the rodeo schedule.

To view the complete schedule, click here.

Some of the cowboys and cowgirls in the parade Monday morning rode in front of the 5NEWS studio as part of their route. They can be seen in the video below.

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