Old Fort Days Rodeo Continues Without Dandies

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — There are only two weeks left until the Old Fort Days Rodeo in Fort Smith and people from all over the country will be in the River Valley for the Old Fort Days Futurity and Super Derby.

It's the Kentucky Derby of barrel racing known for being one of the world's richest events.

"We have 369 people that are entered in the Futurity and we have around $365,000 that's going to be awarded this week," said Old Fort Days Futurity Chairman Christy Terry.

One tradition you won't see this year is the Old Fort Days Dandies. Last year, the announcement was made that the Dandies were disbanding after a lack of participation.

Former Dandie Audrey Bradley says it made her sad because the group was like family.

"I'm not sure how the rodeo is going to play out without the grand entry to the military and all that stuff and the intermissions where we performed usually," Bradley said. "I'm not sure how they're going to fill that in but I'm sure they'll have good ways to do that."

Executive Director of Kay Rodgers Park Denny Flynn says the Dandies have been replaced with junior bull-riding.

"It'll take up the time that the dandies were in there and we're doing that the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then we're coming back with the bullfight Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Flynn said.

Flynn says they would love to bring the Dandies back in the future. He says another reason for the program ending were safety concerns.

"I'm just hoping maybe they needed a break to regroup everything," Flynn said. "I know at some point it can get expensive. We're hoping everything comes back together soon."

Flynn says one thing he would like to see is someone willing to start a horse riding school to teach young boys and girls how to ride. He says there's still a lot of interest in rodeo's and hopefully, that will pave the way for the return of the Dandies.

The Old Fort Days Rodeo starts on Memorial Day (May 27) and runs through June 1.

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