Gulager Springs to return to its roots with rodeos, other events

Jun. 16—A local ranch rich in history will soon add a new chapter to its story.

Just west of Tahlequah, Gulager Springs Ranch is nearing completion of a new arena on the property. Despite setbacks due to the recent weather, owner Patti Gulager, a nurse who has served for years in administration, explained the progress that has already been made.

“We put the arena in last year,” said Patti. “We had an old wooden arena, but they came in and put in the pipes.”

The rectangular arena is now fitted with metal barriers and stands. Gulager has plans to add seat banks and a cover for the risers, as well as wiring the arena’s newly acquired concession stand.

She described how the idea came about.

“There are no arenas in Tahlequah, so we invested,” said Gulager. “We wanted to provide a place for people to bring their horses. We plan to have clinics for the youth, and a junior rodeo, probably next month.”

This isn’t the Gulager family’s first rodeo. Gulager cites the history of her family and that of her husband, GV Among the lineup have been rodeo announcers, western actors and riders. Among them is Clu Gulager, who starred in shows such as “The Virginian” and as Billy the Kid in the series “The Tall Man.”

“Rodeo is embedded in the Gulager soul,” said Patti Gulager.

GV, a former District 2 Cherokee County commissioner, still judges rodeos.

The ranch itself is a piece of history, as Patti notes.

“It’s been in GV’s family since 1839,” Gulager said. “This was a stagecoach stop between Fort Gibson and Tahlequah.”

Patti said the place was also used by the Confederacy as hospital during the Civil War before the Union burned it down. The main house is currently standing on the property was built around 1955.

Patti created the Gulager Springs Event Page on Facebook a few weeks ago. The site already has almost 300 followers who are interested in the new arena.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” said Patti Gulager. “When we first announced it, the phone was ringing off the wall.”

On a post announcing upcoming events, Annika Shoemaker replied with excitement.

“So excited about this,” said Shoemaker. “Thank you for the invite.”

Others are interested in the natural features of the ranch. Among those are retired NSU Public Information Director Ed Brocksmith, a founding member of Save The Illinois River and environmental activist. He asked where the Gulager Springs were located, and Patti provided him with directions.

“Thank you. I study springs in Cherokee County. I’ll come out and look,” said Brocksmith.

The ranch and arena are both named after Gulager Springs, which lies just behind the property’s main house. The spring flows year-round and eventually feeds into the Arkansas River, according to Patti.

“When we first got married, people would come here to fill up for their drinking water,” she said. “We water our stock with it and the kids used to play in it.”

Patti said the spring has remained clean, and almost all of the ranch still runs on it, except the main house. She said locals have used the spring for medicinal purposes, soothing their horses of heat and fever by standing them in the few inches of cold water that bubbles out of the ground.

The Gulager Springs Arena is near completion and is already hosting events. Patti noted the ranch’s current schedule.

“We rope on Sunday evenings. Tuesday, we have Girl’s Breakaway,” said Patti Gulager. “We have Junior Rodeo scheduled.”

Check it out

Find more information about the arena on the Gulager Springs Event Page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1075631856698591

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