McALESTER, Okla. – For the first time in nearly 70 years, Oklahoma’s annual prison rodeo has been canceled – hurting business owners, disappointing tourists and stealing the rodeo-riding dreams from penitentiary-bound participants.
Gone is the financial bonanza generated from motel stays, ticket sales and souvenirs.
“It’s a tremendous loss,” lamented Terry Crenshaw, a warden’s assistant who grew up four blocks from the prison.
Up to 15,000 visitors typically pour in.
Even though the rodeo can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to McAlester businesses, the $120,000 or so needed to stage the games was deemed a luxury as Oklahoma struggles with an expected 20 percent drop in revenue. Already the state has cut social programs and a handful of agencies are using furloughs to trim their spending plans.