Long-running Oklahoma Black rodeo rides on despite COVID-19

The Associated Press - August 16, 2020 8:54 am

Cowboys bow their heads in prayer at the start of the 65th annual Okmulgee Roy LeBlanc Invitational Rodeo, the nation's oldest all-black professional rodeo event, in Okmulgee, Okla., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKMULGEE, Okla. (AP) — The oldest continuously held Black rodeo in the U.S. rode on in eastern Oklahoma despite months of uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic, though this year some cowboys wore face masks along with boots.

The Roy LeBlanc Invitational Rodeo, first held in 1956, took place Aug. 7-8 in Okmulgee with a crowd of about 1,000 and some 200 Black cowboys, with most wearing masks and socially distancing, according to co-owner Kenneth LeBlanc.

Steer wrestler Rodney Demery said the crowd in the approximately 2,500 seat arena seemed smaller, but was enthusiastic, and the cowboys were just happy to be able to compete.


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