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KEY Oklahoma City

A celebration of cowboy heritage the International Professional Rodeo Association was a reason for the American Cowboy to show their skills. From the days of cow punching and working for outfits cowhands filled their spare time with showing off their skills. For fun or maybe as a dare or challenge to compete for bragging rights this time of fellowship evolved into a mainstream sport. The International Finals Rodeo returns to its roots with a celebration of the history of the IPRA, its charter members and the new IPRA cowboys and cowgirls.

Today, rodeo remains a sport that represents all ethnic backgrounds and many different skills. Bronc riders had a job. Breaking horses for riata replacements or band of horses for the next cattle drive. Calf ropers came from a necessity of grabbing calves for doctoring or separating. Showing their own true grit with their desire for speed, hence the cloverleaf pattern and barrel racers who wanted to exhibit the talent and agility of their prized horses.

IFR 34 begins Thursday January 15 at 7:30 p.m. The event is kicked off with "They all Held a Dream" the theme for the first night's performance. Contestants file into Ford Center arena to pay tribute to our American flag with the National Anthem. Introduced by event, the audience has the opportunity to see the cowboys and cowgirls up close and personal. The contestants will remain in the arena as pictures of our past flash across the big screen. The images, along with the music, remind rodeo fans of the faces and names that have kept rodeo alive.

Friday January 16 is round two of IFR 34 beginning at 8 p.m. A celebration of the Stock Contractors and the award winning bucking stock is tonight's focus. A cowboy's story often times turn into legend. The Stock Contractors are the behind the scenes crew responsible for the bucking bulls and broncs.

Saturday, January 17th, kids and their parents will enjoy OG&E Kid's Day beginning at 11 am on the arena floor. Contestants will give roping, bullriding, and barrel racing lessons as well as signing autographs. Following Kids' Day activities, our youngest of fans can watch their new heroes at the 1:30 p.m. Saturday matinee performance titled Rookie Sensations 2003. Celebrating the eight rookies kicking off their first IPRA year, they will step into the IFR spotlight for the first time but almost certainly not their last.

‘The Final Countdown' is Saturday night's theme. This is the moment everyone has waited for; the top cowboys and cowgirls in each of the seven events step into the limelight for a final introduction.

The final performance beginning at 8 p.m. holds a special treat for the fans. Each contestant, introduced by state, gives the crowd the opportunity to shout for their own home state. The contestants will throw signed t-shirts from their home state into the crowd. The short-go or final performance brings paychecks and world championships. Crowning the world champions is a climatic point in the IPRA rodeo season.

For ticket information on the International Finals Rodeo visit their website at iprarodeo.com or call 405-235-6540.





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