Cowboys and cowgirls were showcasing their skills and competing for prizes Saturday afternoon at the Non Pro and Open Cutting event at Hardy Murphy Coliseum. The event has been hugely successful in Oklahoma City for going on 30 years, but this year,  it’s Ardmore’s time to shine.
Event announcer Tom Holt said everything was off to a great start.
“It’s been going really well. We’ve added two more days to the show, and the entries have just grown,” Holt explained. “We’ve been getting a lot of entires. Even more entries than when we were in Oklahoma City.”
Holt, a veteran cutting announcer with almost 40 years experience, has also been impressed with Hardy Murphy Coliseum. He is familiar with the facility because he also announces at the Arbuckle Mountain Futurity, an annual February event also hosted by the venue.
“The people here are so friendly and good to work with,” Holt said, adding that he has also been impressed with the work that has been done since his visit four months ago.
“A lot of people had doubts about the air conditioning in an old building, but they’ve done quite a bit of work since we were here back in February,” he said. “The air conditioner is working great!”
The contestants share Holt’s positivity about the event so far. John Kelly of Columbus, Ohio, has been at the Non Pro in Oklahoma City, but this is the first time he’s been to Ardmore.
“It’s terrific,” Kelly said. “The show is going along very nicely.”
In addition to the new venue for the event, the contestants are also exploring the city.
“They seem very happy,” Tom Holt said. “A lot of them are staying here in RV’s, but most are staying at local hotels.”
Another “first” for the Non Pro is the reception taking place this evening at the Ardmore Convention Center for the participants.
“We’re having a big party for the contestants. It’s going to have a dinner and a dance,” Holt explained. “That’s not something that we did in Oklahoma city. We never had a gathering in the evening.”
Organizers are expecting 200 to 250 guests to attend, and tonight  marks the end of the first weekend for the Non Pro. The event will continue through next Sunday, so contestants have another week to explore the city. That extra week also gives any interested locals an opportunity to go watch all the western-style excitement.