Final touches are taking place at Erath County’s new fairgrounds as rodeo weekend nears.
By Ted Harbin
Special to Beneath the Surface News
When organizers of the local rodeo realized they were about to lose their home, they began the hard work necessary to keep their tradition alive.
“After the rodeo last year, we found out that the Lone Star Arena was going to close their doors,” said Ben Clements, a member of the volunteer committee that produces the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo.
“That left us homeless, so a group of us got together and got with the city, which was above and beyond supportive of the rodeo. The city provided us with a piece of property that we have leased for 75 years, and we went to work on getting an arena and a facility in place.”
The rodeo is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, and Saturday, Sept. 23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, at the new Cowboy Capital Fairgrounds east of Stephenville on U.S. Highway 67.
In fact, the finishing touches are being applied during the final countdown to Stephenville’s rodeo.
“Everything has really crumbled into place,” Clements said with a laugh. “The fairgrounds is a huge addition to the community. It has been an extreme work in progress, and we’re pushing it right down to the wire, but we will be ready.
“It’s a huge undertaking getting everything ready and prepared.”
With unlimited parking and an exquisite facility surrounding the rodeo arena, the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo will have a new place to show off to fans and contestants who will make their way to Erath County in the coming days.
It will be a new locale to showcase the award-winning bucking animals from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, the Dallas-based livestock producer that has been part of the Stephenville rodeo for 15 years.
With local organizers developing a fairgrounds instead of an arena, it opens the door for more things to happen at the complex for years to come.
“There wasn’t a facility like it in Stephenville,” Clements said. “There are some people that are uncertain about having an outdoor arena, but I like the opportunities it brings. Barring a full downpour, the weather in Stephenville is beautiful in September, so it should be a wonderful outdoor experience.”
While there are outlets for more growth and more use out of the facility, organizers are focused on getting everything ready for the final full weekend of September and during the final week of Pro Rodeo’s regular season.
This is a time when contestants who are on the bubble to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo will try to capitalize in Stephenville.
“While there are some opportunities to put on other events there, the uniqueness of the rodeo being outdoors in the Cowboy Capital is going to be really good for the rodeo,” Clements said.
“Everything else that’s there is going to be gravy for everybody around here.”