By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – The 2019 edition of the Durant Riding Club Pro Rodeo was held at the Riding Club Arena this past weekend. One important person who has been instrumental to the growth and success of this event was not in attendance though.
Ken Edelen, president of the Durant Riding Club, passed from this life and went to be with the Lord on March 24.
In honor of his tireless effort and long hours, days, weeks and years of work for the Riding Club, he was honored one more time at the rodeo with family and friends in attendance.
Announcer West Huggins addressed the crowd as Ken’s sons and grandchildren entered the arena with a riderless horse.
“This is the one man that decided that the Durant Riding Club needed to become more a staple of Oklahoma. So tonight, I’m going to call on you to look down onto this arena.
“Tonight, you are going to see a horse that comes in with no saddle. Tonight, we are honoring a man who that had the dedication to bring the Durant Riding Club to what it is today. We are talking about Mr. Ken Edelen, who left this great earth way too soon. Ladies and gentlemen, he had a smile that every single one of you knew.
“Leading that horse are his kids and grandkids right behind. That saddle is empty because Ken is watching down on us tonight. We thought it only fitting to once again share with you the story of a man that served his great country in the navy and was a veteran of these great United States of America.
“Ken Edelen decided a long time ago that with the dedication of the Riding Club and with the dedication of Durant, we could make a pro rodeo. And the last time that he went to the UPRA (United Pro Rodeo Association) Finals, he found that this rodeo was in the top three in the United States of America – and boy, it put a smile on his face. He found out that he had a record attendance.
“And I tell you what else he found out, the community we’re at here in Durant shows love and knows what being a cowboy is all about. It’s waking up early with the determination on your mind to work hard, to treat others with respect and to take your hat off to a young lady every time.”