Guest Article by Brittney Sisson OGRC Secretary since 2019
November 1, 2019 – The President of OGRC at that time made a post on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in taking over the club before it completely dissolved. They’d had a few rough years and very little participation to keep the club alive. Nearly 50 years and people had just stopped attending, while others just had no idea the club even existed. I shared his post on my “All Things HORSES (Northwest Arkansas Region)” Facebook page to try to help the club out. I had only attended a few playdays in recent years, but was never actually involved. My best friend from 1st Grade, Stephanie McKenna, commented on my shared post that I should take over, better yet, that we could do it together. So, in true Brittney/Stephanie fashion, we discussed it over Mexican food and decided to contact the OGRC President and let him know we were willing to step up and try to save the club. We were voted into office on November 14, 2019 with Stephanie McKenna as President and myself, Brittney Sisson, as Vice President. This soon changed when our friend, Brooke Smith, graciously volunteered to be Vice President so I could be Secretary – my highly preferred position.
In our first few months we completely revamped the club – set up a PayPal, became super active with our presence on social media, responded to messages that had been ignored for months, created a bold new logo, heavily revised old documents, and began putting word out for the club’s largest annual fundraiser to be held in February – Oak Grove Riding Club’s Annual Chili Supper and Auction Fundraiser. We were told that they usually raised $1500 and up to $2000 in a really good year. Honestly, we were just hoping to raise enough to pay for our arena lease since there wasn’t enough in the bank account when we took over for 2020. The landlord was very understanding and gave us a couple months, so we could put on this fundraiser. It was such a success too – standing room only and over $4000 raised! Everyone was blown away!
Exactly 1 year to the date of us being voted into office, November 14, 2020, we put on our first OGRC Awards Banquet. It was an incredible evening and very emotional as we had worked our tails off and accomplished so much in that year. Not only were we able to keep the club alive, but it was thriving. We had more members in that year than they had the previous three years combined and all during the chaos of COVID. So many incredible people stepped up to help us as volunteers, officers, board members, sponsors, donors, and supporting members. It was quite the comeback and exactly what Oak Grove needed.
Today, Stephanie is still President and I’m still Secretary. Oak Grove has become like a second family to us. We’ve stayed strong and have continued to grow in membership and participation. Last year was our first time to participate in the Rodeo Of The Ozarks parade with Oak Grove Riding Club and once again, OGRC knocked it out of the park! We had 33 riders dressed in white button up shirts, blue bandanas, cowboy hats, and blue saddle blankets winning us 1st Place for Best Dressed and 1st Place for Most Unified Riding Members. This year we were able to bring back the Oak Grove Riding Club Queen Contest and are thrilled to have Miss Keeley Hargrove represent Oak Grove as our 2022 Queen for our 50th anniversary year.
For anyone out there who is completely unfamiliar with Oak Grove Riding Club, we are a very welcoming, family friendly, non-profit riding club with our primary events being our Summer Playday Series that we put on every Friday night beginning the Friday after Easter and running through September – with the exception of holidays. Our playdays consist of a Grand Entry, Western Pleasure, Pole Bending, Speed, and Barrels. They start at 7pm and are for any age or level of rider. We have also begun putting on a Winter Playday Series at the Benton County Fairgrounds indoor arena to give people something to do during the off season. Our Facebook page lists all our events and cancellations as well, so feel free to check us out, and come join the fun! Our arena is located just west of Cave Springs on Colonel Myers Rd.
If you aren’t close to Cave Springs, but think this sounds like something you’d want to be a part of, PLEASE check out the other riding clubs in our area – the following have Facebook pages: Goshen Riding Club, Lincoln Riding Club, Rock Ridge Riding Club, Siloam Springs Play Nights. These are wonderful groups and provide great opportunities for the whole family to get involved – whether beginner riders with green horses or professionals in the rodeo circuits.
As I mentioned before, this is Oak Grove Riding Club’s 50th Anniversary Year and we’re looking to celebrate BIG! We are currently looking for sponsors for our 50th Anniversary Awards Banquet to be held this November, so if you or anyone you know may be interested in sponsoring, please reach out to Oak Grove on Facebook or you can message me personally, “Britt N Mitch Sisson” on Facebook. All the funds we receive throughout the year from donations, entries fees, concessions, etc. go towards maintaining our grounds and providing the best awards we can for our hard-working members. We greatly appreciate the incredible amount of donors and sponsors we’ve had the last couple years and hope to really make this year, OGRC’s 50th Anniversary Year, one that will be remembered for years to come!
A huge thank you to Brittney Sisson for this guest article. I want to encourage you to find a riding club near you. Even if you don’t have a horse yet, they have some fun family events. I think it is great for community involvement.