Be a Tourist in Your Own Community: Payne County Expo Center Edition

The Cowboy Stampede Rodeo is held each October.

Story and photos provided by the Visit Stillwater Team

Last year we launched the series “Be a Tourist in Your Own Community” highlighting tips and suggestions about experiencing unique events and attractions in your own backyard.

So what comes to mind when you think of the Payne County Expo Center? Do you reminisce over the thrill of winning a life-size teddy bear with your mad dart skills? Do you begin to salivate at the thought of fried Twinkies and the best fair home cooking on the planet? We don’t blame you. The Payne County Expo Center is probably most widely known as the home for the Payne County Fair and who doesn’t love a good county fair anyway? In fact, we celebrated the centennial Payne County Fair in 2014. 

The Payne County Expo Center is more than just the fairgrounds; it is Stillwater’s most versatile event venue. With 85,000 square feet of meeting and event space, it is certainly one of Visit Stillwater’s primary sales tools that we share with potential event planners who are considering Stillwater for the home to their next event. If you happened to be there in November of last year, it’s possible you encountered a rabbit show, craft festival, and goat sale all within a few steps. This type of multi-event set up is just a typical day-in-the-life of a Payne County Expo Center team member. Here are a few events to have on your radar for the upcoming year.

Coming up in May, the Aggie Cattledog Challenge is an event presented by the Central Cattledog Association, with the purpose of promoting and developing the use of cattledogs for the benefit and education of livestock owners and cattledog handlers. The Aggie Cattledog Challenge is one of many educational events presented by the association, which includes clinics, low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, and public cattledog competitions.

The Cowboy Country Horse Driving Trials takes place in June and are designed to showcase the agility of driving horses through a series of timed obstacle courses. The mission of the Oklahoma Harness Horse Association is to educate, motivate, and provide opportunities for all levels of drivers to network and to participate in the equine sports of recreational and competitive driving.

Another truly unique event at the Payne County Expo Center is the annual Cowboy Country Farm Toy Show that is held each fall season. The toy show is for collectors and toy enthusiasts to display and sell agriculture related memorabilia and farm toys.

The OSU Rodeo Team and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University present The Cowboy Stampede in October – a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association sanctioned event. The Cowboy Stampede includes multiple events each evening of the competition such as bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, and many more.

The Central Regional Rabbit Show occurs in November and hosts the American Rabbit Breeders Association with over 23,000 members throughout the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Members range from the pet owner with one rabbit to the commercial producer with several hundred animals.

We want to encourage you to stay in the know about what the Payne County Expo Center team is up to and about the events they host and facilitate throughout the year at or on their Facebook page. Plan to be a spectator or even a participant at one of the upcoming events at the Payne County Expo Center.  We bet you’ll be surprised about the variety of events that take place there, and your appreciation for such a great community asset should most certainly be celebrated with a five-pound funnel cake and gallons of fresh squeezed lemonade in August!

To learn more about how to be a visitor in your own community, go to, “Like” Visit Stillwater on Facebook, and follow “@VisitStillwater” on Twitter.  If you already consider yourself a seasoned “staycationer,” we would love to hear about your hometown favorites and staycation tidbits. Use #staycationstillwater when you share your next local experience on social media!  The Visitor Information Center, located at 2617 W. 6th Avenue, is open 24/7 or call 405-743-3697.