Sold-out Oakley rodeo touts larger purse, new livestock provider
Oakley City has parted ways with its stock contractor of almost four decades, Bar T, for this year’s rodeo.
The 88th Oakley Independence Day Celebration begins June 30, with a new stock contractor providing the animals for rodeo events.
Oakley signed a 5-year contract deal with the Dallas-based livestock producer Pete Carr Pro Rodeo in November 2022. That meant saying goodbye to the Utah-based Bar T Rodeo Company, that had provided Oakley’s rodeo livestock since 1983.
Rodeo Committee Chair Wade Woolstenhulme called it a “hard decision.”
He said Oakley didn’t necessarily want to change contractors, but the agreement with Bar T ended after last year’s rodeo, which was an opportunity for the committee to consider other options.
“As we came together, we just felt we needed to make some changes,” Woolstenhulme said. “And we couldn’t come into agreement with the old contractor on some of the changes we wanted to make.”
He said the committee wanted a contractor that could help the rodeo compete with bigger rodeos around the Fourth of July, such as Cody, Wyo.; St. Paul, Ore.; and Prescott, Ariz.
The committee said it was looking for a contractor that could attract sub-contractors, too. Carr told Woolstenhulme he’s bringing Cullen Pickett with Pickett Pro Rodeo as a sub-contractor this year.
“When you watch the [National Finals Rodeo], you’ve got Pete Carr and Pickett that just stand out. When you watch the winter rodeos, you’ll see Pete Carr and Pickett winning all those rodeos,” Woolstenhulme said. “That just solidified our decision to hire Pete as our stock contractor.”
Pete Carr is a 13-time nominee for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Stock Contractor of the Year. 26 of Carr’s animals participated in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December 2022.
Woolstenhulme said he believes Carr's stock is an addition that helped secure a full contestant lineup this year.
“One of the areas that we weren't filling up was our bareback and saddle bronc riding events. We weren't getting contestants, and [this year] that filled up very fast,” he said. “I think a lot of that had to do with the new contractor and what they're bringing in as far as quality of stock.”
Oakley has doubled the prize money this year too, offering $20,000 per event instead of $10,000. The payout, which could be more than $300,000 this year, includes local sponsorship dollars and contestants’ entry fees.
This year’s rodeo also features announcers Greg Simas and Anthony Lucia, clown Dusty Myers and trick rider Haley Proctor.
Tickets for the 4-day event sold out online within 48 hours. It’s a sign to Woolstenhulme that Oakley may need to expand its infrastructure.
The rodeo committee is in the beginning stages of adding capacity at the rodeo grounds. Oakley can seat about 5,700 and Woolstenhulme said he would like to see it grow to 7,500.
He said the city received positive feedback after it released tickets to locals only for a limited time this year.
And for those who missed out on a ticket, there’s another limited release in-person at Oakley City Hall on Wednesday, June 21, at 10 a.m.
The in-person sales are an effort to minimize scalping, which Woolstenhulme said plagues the online market.
“You see ads for Oakley’s rodeo from someone in Seattle, Washington, for $200 a ticket,” he said. "It's like, how the crap did they get tickets up there?”