The week-long rodeo with over 700 cowboys and cowgirls ended late Saturday night.
Director Ron Scamardo said the riders traveled to Fort Smith from all over the United States, as well as Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and Australia. He said there were over 33,000 spectators since the rodeo opened with a parade on Memorial Day.
People young and old were out Saturday night enjoying the last day of the rodeo.
“Really this is my second time to come to a rodeo…you’ve heard of what a rodeo is all about when you’re growing up, and then to see it and everything it includes is awesome,” spectator Anna Davis said.
She brought her young son Shane for his first experience seeing real cowboys.
“For him to experience it and grow up with it, and to understand what a rodeo is about…it just gives you an opportunity to talk about cowboys and the past,” Davis said.
“It’s just a lot of neat educations things to experience with him.” Steer Wrestler Tyler Waguespack grew up living the life of a cowboy. “Before I can remember, since I’ve been little…that’s all we’ve done,” Waguespack said, “Most kids play baseball, but we rodeo-ed.”
Waguespeck was one of the many cowboys competing for their part of $145,000 in prize money. The director of the rodeo said the last night is always the most packed. He said it is a steal at just $15 per ticket to see a national event.
“We bring the National Finals Rodeo to Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas area, because a lot of them actually don’t have time to go to the National Finals, and we bring the top fifteen in every event to the rodeo here,” Scamardo said.” All the world champions are here, and some great bucking horses…we’ve had several of them jump to the sky, to where you can actually walk underneath them…that’s how high they buck.”
The Old Fort Days rodeo began in 1934, and Scamardo said he hopes it will continue for many years to come.