Oklahoma has roped in a national youth rodeo competition. When officials with the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) began looking at possible relocation sites for its 2016 finals, the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie quickly rose to the top of the list.
The long-standing NLBRA is a youth rodeo organization for kids ages 5 to 18. More than 2,000 children compete in NLBRA-sanctioned events annually, leading up to the finals in July. Until relocating to Guthrie, the finals were held in Pueblo, Colorado.
Ginger Myers, who heads NLBRA marketing and sponsorships, says the move from Colorado to Oklahoma just made sense.
“The NLBRA has a long history of strong partnerships in and out of the arena,” Myers says. “The Lazy E was one of the few facilities in the nation that was willing to tackle the size of the finals and accomplish the goals of the NLBRA – even ground, quality camping and stalls, and a common goal to grow with the association.”
The 70,000 square feet of arena floor, climate control and the ability to run three arenas at once drew in the NLBRA. The chance to level the playing field and allow each contestant to have the same quality of footing in the arena was appealing.
“This is a very rare facility,” Myers says.
“Oklahoma is one of the states with the highest membership growth,” Myers adds. “We had a very strong showing of Oklahoma members.”
Dan Wall, general manager and vice president of the Lazy E Arena, says location was a major part of the arena’s pitch to the NLBRA. Lazy E studied the association’s membership demographics and found numbers were high in the western and northwestern U.S. during the time when the final competition was hosted in Pueblo, but were considerably lower in the southern and central parts of the country.
“We proposed that by moving their national finals to a more central location – and in the horse show and rodeo world, there’s not a more central location than Oklahoma – that it would be a good opportunity for them to gain market share in other states,” Wall says. “That turned out to be a very wise move on their part, because their membership numbers have literally exploded and are up 30 percent this year.”
A Valuable Venue
Wall says the competition has also been an economic boon for the city. There were over 1,000 kids competing, he says.
“On average, each contestant brought four people with them,” he says. “This organization is very family-oriented, so kids bring siblings, grandparents and other relatives in addition to their parents.”
Myers adds, “Our families stay local and shop local. Plus, a large portion of our membership visits the Oklahoma City metro area more than once a year for events. This demographic is very important to the state of Oklahoma as a whole.”
Both Wall and Myers agree that hosting a competition the size of the NLBRA Finals boosts national notoriety for Lazy E, the city of Guthrie and Oklahoma. Wall says the arena is positioned to host even more large-scale events in the future.
“We’re privately owned with controlled access and full-time security, so we’re a safe, family-friendly facility that is dedicated to promoting the western lifestyle,” he says. “We’ve got beautiful green grass, lots of trees, and geese, ducks and fish. You can even camp on our grounds.
“We can offer people an environment here that is distinctly different than you would get from larger commercial facilities,” he adds.
According to Myers, Lazy E is a “snapshot” of all Oklahoma has to offer.
“Performance horses, cattle, hay, beautiful landscape and wildlife, and the Oklahoma open-door hospitality is wrapped up into one exceptional package,” she says.