IFYR boosts Shawnee businesses, creates friendships for competitors


SHAWNEE — Hundreds of cowgirls and cowboys hailing from Florida to California and Illinois to Texas are in Shawnee this week for the annual International Finals Youth Rodeo.

With the young rodeo competitors come families, friends and support systems, and for Shawnee businesses that means an influx of traffic, especially as rodeo goers look for ways to keep cool between competition rounds at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center.

In 2017, the International Professional Rodeo Association, which organizes the International Finals Youth Rodeo, estimated attendees spent at least $10 million in the city and surrounding areas during the event. Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt said it’s hard to put a real dollar amount on the rodeo these days, but Shawnee residents seemingly know the value of the event. Residents have passed multiple propositions and temporary sales taxes to fund improvements to the expo center grounds.

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