Tourism returns to Ardmore

Drew Butler

Tourism is beginning to return to southern Oklahoma and the Hardy Murphy Coliseum is among the first to bring people into the city. General Manager Jeff Storms discussed some of the coliseum’s recent and upcoming activities during the Ardmore Tourism Authority meeting Thursday morning.

“We kept working throughout the shutdown just doing some maintenance,” Storms said.

He said their first event, the JW Team Roping Series, which began May 1, brought in a much larger turnout than it has in years past.

“We have it twice a year, and they usually have around 1,700 teams, and this time we had around 2,800 teams show up. So that was really good for our first weekend,” he said.

Their most recent event, the Barry Burk Championship Jr. Rodeo Roundup, over Memorial Day weekend also brought in a larger crowd than it had in the past couple of years.

“It was very hectic but it was refreshing to see it come back,” Storms said. “This last weekend the crowd was quite large. Hopefully we were able to see that throughout the town because it had a strong attendance. It was very well attended, and it will be strong going forward next year.”

Storms said the coliseum has another large event, the Non Pro Plus the Open Cutting, beginning next week. This will be the third year they have hosted the event and it has continued to grow each year. This year they have added two additional days and 190 extra horse stalls to accommodate all the people and horses that will be arriving.

“I have two big tents that are going to be set up with 120 extra stalls, and I set up an additional 70 stalls,” Storms said. “Typically I have 530 stalls, and now I have 720. As of yesterday, I’ve sold over 700.”

Storms said they added the additional days to take extra precaution by not having as many participants competing each day.

“We don’t want want the days to go too late and wear people out,” Storms said. “We don’t want people running down.”

Storms said the additional days will also provide the contestants with additional time to enjoy the community.

“I’m anxious to bring all these people into town because it should get a lot more people out in the community for a longer period of time,” Storms said. “They’ll have the time to get out, shop a little bit, and go out to eat.”