In 1957 a group of 15 men, under the leadership of Dr. Ted Alexander, organized the Wichita County Sheriff’s Patrol. 10 years later the Sheriff’s Patrol changed its name to the Wichita County Mounted Patrol.
The first professional rodeo was hosted by the Patrol in 1958 at Spudder ballpark on the north side of Wichita Falls. After hosting three professional rodeos at the ballpark and one at Midwestern State University’s football field, construction was complete on the arena located on FM 369. In 1961 the fourth annual Red River Rodeo was held at this new facility.
Cletus Schenk became the second President of the Patrol in 1965. Under his leadership the annual Red River Rodeo became one of the largest professional rodeos in the area. The people of Wichita County and the surrounding area were able to watch Champion cowboys like Freckles Brown, Larry Mahan, Ty Murray, Lane Frost and local champion Mickey Gee compete in the sport of rodeo.
With one of the best venues in North Texas, Schenk and the members of the Patrol were also instrumental in bringing events like the Ranch Round-up, tractor pulls, and youth rodeos to the area. Packing the stands and supporting the local economy. Anyone who has attended an event at the facility on FM 369 will tell you that there is nothing like enjoying a rodeo under the big Texas sky.
In addition to these major events, the Patrol also opens the facility to charitable organizations for benefit roping and penning events, and barrel races. For many years the facility was also the home of the Wichita County 4-H Horse Club’s monthly horse shows and training clinics.
The major events not only contributed to the economy of the area but the proceeds directly benefited local charitable organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wichita Falls, North Texas Rehabilitation Center, and the Children’s Aid Society. In 1979, just two months after the April 10th tornado, the proceeds from the professional rodeo went to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army to support their efforts of helping the hundreds of displaced families. In June, 2014 the Children’s Miracle Network was the beneficiary of the proceeds from the first professional rodeo sponsored by the Wichita County Mounted Patrol in four years.
The Patrol is incorporated as a non-profit and charitable organization. All of the maintenance and improvements are done by the members and are financed through membership dues and donated services.
The patrol and the facility on FM 369 have a great reputation in North Texas but over the past few years, due to the economy, the Patrol’s arena and facility sat unused with no upkeep. In February 2014, a group of like-minded men gathered with the desire to bring the Patrol, and its facility, back to a place of serving the community by keeping rodeo and the western heritage alive while giving back to the community through financial gifts to charitable organizations.
Under the leadership of current President Mike Kephart, membership has grown from 6 to over 40 men, women and families. A 5 man board has been put into place, and the Patrol hosted its first professional rodeo in over 3 years, at the facility on FM 369. The stands were packed with people from the community plus college students and those stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base, many attending a rodeo for the first time.
To bring the facility to a place where this type of event could be held, many of the members spent weekends and even weekdays preparing the grounds. Members used their own equipment to mow the grounds, plow the arena, remove and repair the bleachers and so much more. Businesses in the community donated their time to repair plumbing and paint.