Prison rodeos are a thing of legend in Texas and Oklahoma. The prison rodeo that was hosted in Texas was world-famous. In McAlester, Oklahoma, the prison rodeo was also a major ordeal. Inmates would compete for the glory and prize money in the annual event. In Oklahoma, at least, there is a push to revive the tradition.

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The Long History Of The Oklahoma Prison Rodeo in McAlester

McAlester, Oklahoma is home to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. "Big Mac", as it's called, was home to the state's prison rodeo. The prison rodeo started in 1940 and only took a break for World War II. They also skipped in 1970 thanks to an inmate uprising. You can't have an uprising and have a rodeo, too. It's one or the other, apparently.


Inmates would compete for the last time in 2009. Because of budget shortfalls, there would be no more prison rodeo.

It's a bummer for more than just the inmates. Sure, the rodeo offered some entertainment and a break from prison life. It also offered the chance for glory and some cash. The prison rodeo, though, was also a big deal to those who made a habit of sitting in the stands and watching year after year.

At one point, the multi-day event boasted an attendance of around 65,000. That was in the 1960s when the event lasted four whole days. That's a pretty big rodeo. It was big enough at one point to be called the biggest prison rodeo in the nation.

Could The Legendary Prison Rodeo Be Ready For A Comeback?

Over the past few years, there has been a renewed interest in bringing the prison rodeo back in Oklahoma. Some of the obstacles that have stood in the way are the costs of the arena repairs and the cost of insurance premiums. It's not all bad news, though, for prison rodeo enthusiasts.

According to reports, it looks like at least Oklahoma is close to getting its legendary prison rodeo back. As recent as a few months ago, the reports were stating that not only were efforts underway, but PBR and Netflix were going to possibly be involved. Also, the plan isn't just for one rodeo. The plan is to have multiple rodeos throughout the year.


It's not hard to imagine the return of the prison rodeo being a big deal in McAlester and Oklahoma as a whole. The prison rodeo is a big enough deal that is memorialized with a statue in front of the prison. The statue features a cowboy on a bull. Striped shirt and all.

Supposedly, they're hoping to get the prison rodeo in Oklahoma back up and running in the next couple of years. Now, what about you, Texas?

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