As most residents living in Shawnee for very long know, there's a particular week in July that offers a distinct feeling of coziness reminiscent of distant relatives coming to visit –– when the household quarters get snug, but no one really minds –– because it's family.

Note: An in-depth look at how Shawnee's annual International Finals Youth Rodeo is a substantial boon to the city's coffers.

As most residents living in Shawnee for very long know, there's a particular week in July that offers a distinct feeling of coziness reminiscent of distant relatives coming to visit –– when the household quarters get snug, but no one really minds –– because it's family.

This week, the city welcomes nearly 1,000 young athletes in western wear –– donning giant numbers tacked to their backs –– as they come to town, bringing along with them families, horses … and dollars.

The International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR) has officially begun its 24th year of its roping and riding competition –– and with it comes a tremendous boost in revenue for the area.

“It's one of our largest months for sales tax,” City of Shawnee Finance Director Cindy Arnold said.

“Looking back a few years, we see an increase for August collections of $100,000-$150,000,” she said. “This would be for sales recorded for July.”

Many area businesses directly benefit from the temporary boost in shoppers.

Atwoods Manager Jeff Duncan said the store prepares for the influx of customers during IFYR.

“We judge our inventory based on the year before,” he said. “We sell what they're looking for. We try to cater to them, ordering things they need for themselves and their animals.”

Duncan said he enjoys seeing different faces from other states and countries.

“It's nice to get to talk to new people about roping and rodeo,” he said.

The IFYR sets up shop at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center. But the rodeo has grown so much that, at maximum capacity –– with about 700 RV spaces –– the expo can only house roughly two-thirds of the entrants.

Local hotels don't mind the overflow when they have the rooms.

Hampton Inn Assistant General Manager Melanie Sims said ropers and riders make up 20 to 25 percent of their occupancy during IFYR.

“We stay pretty full all year-round, so some years we have to turn them away,” she said. “I wish we had more rooms available for them.”

Chili's Manager Barbara Shubert shared a similar assessment of the increase in business.

She said the restaurant sees a 25-percent rise in sales during rodeo week.

“We know they are coming and we get ready,” she said. Shubert said it gets busy during lunch and stays that way throughout dinner.

“We get hammered pretty late when the rodeo is done each night,” she said.

IFYR's first rodeo was held in 1993, featuring 309 contestants from 13 states. The IFYR has grown to an event touting 923 registered contestants and 1,610 event entries this year.

The event has more than 500 volunteers contributing numerous hours of work leading up to and during the week of the rodeo.

Events, schedule

•Events include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding.

• Each performance includes 10 events running in three arenas simultaneously.

• Performances kick-off today at 8 p.m.

• Performances are at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily. Finals performance is Friday at 7:30 p.m. featuring the top 15 contestants in each event.

• The air-conditioned retail trade show is open daily. Hours are today from noon to 8 p.m. and Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Get Social

• Facebook: Facebook.com/InternationalFinalsYouthRodeo

• Twitter: @IFYRShawnee

• Instagram: @IFYRShawnee

For more information, call the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, 1700 W. Independence, at (405) 275-7020 or visit IFYR.com.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.