By Maggie Josephsen
This March, in part due to Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Commissioner Karl Stressman, Osceola County will host the 2015 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR). Last year, there were major renegotiations for the host cities of both the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and the RNCFR. After being edged out of the running by Las Vegas for the NFR, Osceola County stepped up to the plate to partner with the PRCA to host this prestigious event. Stressman said, “[The RNCFR] will pay in excess of a million dollars in cash and prizes, and [Osceola has] been wonderful partners for us. Rather than sulking and walking away feeling they hadn’t won the prize [of the Wrangler NFR], they stepped up to the plate and said, we’d really like to be partners.”
In fact, Stressman said that PRCA and Osceola County are a great fit for each other. A lot of people seem to think Osceola County is much further from Dallas than Las Vegas. In reality, if you plug it in to your GPS Kissimmee is actually closer- not by much, but still closer. Additionally, Osceola County brings families together already with what it has to offer in tourism and that is one of the features PRCA looks for in its target markets. Stressman is pleased that both events have landed in such great host locations. “We now feel like the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has two of the finest tourism-driven areas in the country to have championship events,” he said. “This will be an exceptional event. [in Florida].”
While Stressman ,PRCA Commissioner, is thrilled with the location of events, he is also facing a major challenge to professional rodeo-declining competitors. “The challenge is that the history of these events are real ranch tasks, and that history is going away,” Stressman said. “When I was a kid, you still had the opportunity to get out on a horse and ride and rope a steer in a pasture if you had to, but that segment of the market is shrinking in that area. So we have to make it more of a mainstream participation activity.” Of course, in Osceola County, we still have ranches and families that can start their training young, but it is dangerous and expensive to pursue. Then there is the added challenge of young people whose attention is diverted from rodeo by other sports which are more accessible and less expensive to pursue through school athletics and intramural teams. Stressman hopes that by developing professional rodeo as a more lucrative career option, it will encourage more young participants who will develop into the professional rodeo stars of the next few decades. He hopes that more students as young as elementary school will begin to dream of rodeo careers, and that their families will encourage them to start training and working toward the goal of competing in the future.
In addition, Stressman says that 51% of the PRCA fan base is women and he challenges any other sport out there to say that. Women are great fans who bring brand loyalty and strong buying power, and the PRCA is proud to have them.
For more information on the Ram National Rodeo, please go to www.OHPark.com or for group sales call 321-697-3321. Interview by Kena Blain, Osceola Woman Newspaper. Article written by, Maggie Josephsen.