So we’re back at it again with the Ada Rodeo and continuing the story of my recent adventures. We pick up where we last found our valiant author, beginning to traverse her way around downtown Ada, Oklahoma…
I’ve packed up my things and exited my vehicle parked across the street from the Ada library. It’s a nice library, a bit on the smaller side, but Ada is a bit on the smaller side in general so it’s understandable.
One of the first things I noticed when walking around Ada was that everything was closer than I thought it was. You know when you’re a kid and the staircases in your house or school seem SOO big you can’t even begin to describe how big they are, that is until you grow up and realize they have been “normal” to small sized this whole time? That’s kind of how I felt when walking through Ada all by my lonesome (and yes that staircase story is a true story).
At this point, I had decided to just wander and take some pictures. The parade wasn’t slated to start for about an hour since I miss judged my departure time, but that was okay. I snapped some more pictures (these can all be lovingly viewed from my images tab or flickr page linked on the right) and some of the buildings I was taken pictures of were across the street from me. This little detail is important because of what happened next. As I was snapping a picture of the Ada court house, I noticed that a car had stopped in the street. At first, I was confused, but the lady waved to me and I realized she had stopped to let me take my picture without her car in the way. I eagerly waved back and was smiling from ear to ear at this small act of kindness. From my interaction with Stillwater drivers (don’t get me started) my lil heart was so taken aback by this act that the lady in the car probably doesn’t think about anymore. I felt that true, small town community spirit right then and there and it was wonderful.
But back to the main part of the story, actually finding the parade! So I continued walking around, went down a block and hit Main Street. I recognized some of the older buildings that my mom always pointed out when we would drive into town (such as the Diamond Shop Credit store, every time) and took some more pictures. That’s when the couple behind me asked, “so are you some kind of reporter or something?” I was surprised but replied, “No, well, kind of” and told them the short version of this project. They seemed slightly intrigued by the idea, but then it hit me. This is your chance Bovaird, figure out where this darn parade is!
So I asked them before they could leave where the parade was scheduled to be and they said, “Well right here, down main street!” I was delighted, for I had stumbled upon the exact location myself without even knowing it. This whole thing might sound extra flashy for no reason but I promise it was like finding the road to El Dorado, I was so relieved to know I was in the right spot. I walked down the street until I got a good view of the railroad track and decided to set up shop across from the McSwain, the local theatre.
My mom told me stories of when she would go to the McSwain as a kid and teen, it was a pretty cool place back in the day (sorry mom, I don’t mean to make you sound too old!). Currently, the theatre still does showings and local events which I think is pretty nifty since it was built in 1920, almost pushing 100 years already! I got my little tripod set up nice and early next to one other family and then waited. I tried to ask the family next to me if they were excited for the rodeo or knew anything about it, but they didn’t seem super interested in talking. I figured out that was because the parade and rodeo had just resummed its yearly events only about two years ago, so this was fairly new to a lot of locals. I was unaware that it wasn’t quite as popular as it used to be and assumed “well of course everyone knows about the rodeo, it used to be the largest outdoor rodeo in the nation!” … back in 1941. The show started soon though and the procession of horseback riders, rodeo queens, and old-fashioned government elect advertisements began! Some pictures I’ll include below bu the rest you can find on my Resources & Images page along with the Flickr link on the right hand side of the site. Anyways, it turns out that the people driving down the street were throwing out candy for kids since it was the week before Halloween and boy did those kids leap for that candy.
It’s interesting to view the modern rodeo when I had been so focused on the Ada rodeo from the 1930s to 50s. I was curious if people knew how big and important this once was to their small town. Famous rodeo participants used to come from across the nation to participate in the Ada Firemen’s Rodeo, but did anyone remember that anymore? I hope by capturing the modern day parade I might inspire someone to look back on the history of it as well because it is endlessly fascinating. One lady asked me when I was packing up if I worked for the paper. I told her no but if they wanted any of my images I would be happy to provide them! That would have been amazing to have featured some of my pictures from the parade in the local newspaper. By the end of the parade, I was overjoyed with the outcome of my pictures and my video. I’ll be linking the video soon (when I figure out how to, oops!) I had called my great aunt right before the parade had started and regretted not letting her know sooner when I was going to be in town (like I meant to) since she wanted to join me but it was too last minute. Funnily enough, her father had told her “once you see one rodeo, you’ve seen them all” and didn’t take her to the rodeo when she was a kid. I personally think she missed out. Anyways, I ended up making one more unexpected stop before I left town, but that I will include in another blog post. Stay tuned!