FS RODEO: Perfect weather welcomed rodeo fans to Fort Smith for the week-long Old Fort Days Rodeo, which is celebrating 90 years of summertime tradition

FILE PHOTO (2022) - Top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association members will take a ride on National Finals Bucking Stock during Old Fort Days Rodeo at Kay Rodgers Park in Fort Smith.

FORT SMITH -- Perfect weather welcomed rodeo fans to downtown Fort Smith for the annual parade along Garrison Avenue on Monday that officially began the week-long Old Fort Days Rodeo, which is celebrating 90 years of summertime tradition.

For Tanner Aus, a first-place performance in bareback riding marked his 10th appearance at the Old Fort Days Rodeo and one of many on the rodeo circuit.

"Pretty close to 100, that's what counts toward the NFR [National Finals Rodeo] toward the end of the year," Aus said. "If the year's going good, we'll finish in the top 15."

Aus rode Double Cross to a score of 79 on Monday in the opening event of the rodeo.

Aus grew up with a routine that included football in the fall, wrestling in the winter, track in the spring and rodeo during the summer.

"It's all been great. I loved all of it," Aus said. "Staying in shape when you're 16-years-old is a lot different than staying in shape when you're 32, I can tell you that. Wrestling was very important to me, there's a lot of camaraderie and a lot of discipline. It was very goal orienting, and that helped me."

Fort Smith has routinely been on his circuit that included Claremore, Okla., last week, Colorado, and back to Tulsa. Next it's on to Iowa, his home state of Minnesota, Colorado again, and Montana.

"I started coming here in 2009, and haven't been every year because I've had to take off a couple of years," Aus said. "I try to get here every year, the weather's good and it kind of starts off the summer."

He's been bareback riding since he was 9-years-old shortly after his dad retired.

"He started hauling me to little britches rodeo and stuff," Aus said. "I've been at for a while. I've been very fortunate, it's always been a passion and a hobby. I've always loved it."

Aus and Lane McGehee of Victoria, Texas, were the only bareback riders to score Monday. McGehee recorded a 78.

Grayson Cole of Fredonia, Pa., and Trey Kimzey of Strong City, Okla., were the only bull riders to score with an 80 and 74.5, respectively.

The rodeo will continue throughout the week to Saturday night's final show.

Old Fort Days Rodeo

WHERE Harper Stadium at Kay Rodgers Park, Fort Smith

WHEN Monday-Saturday

TIME 7 p.m. grand entry, 7:30 p.m. events

NOTEWORTHY This is the 90th Old Fort Days Rodeo, which was first held at Andrews Field in downtown Fort Smith in 1933. … Kay Rodgers Park began hosting the event in 1949. … This year, the purse was increased by $7,500 for each event. … The Fort Smith Museum of History last week opened a new exhibit about the history of the Old Fort Smith Days Rodeo called Bulls, Broncs, Beauties and Boots that will run through July 29.