Hodge family transforms Hartford football field to rodeo arena in honor of son, brother

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

When Klancy "Newt" Hodge died at the age of 14 last November in a hunting accident, his mom, Brandie, said that she didn't know if their family would be able to go back.

"So much of our lives centered around going to the rodeo each weekend during the summer," Brandie Hodge said.

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The Hodges are involved in many aspects of rodeos. The parents are often working behind the scenes while the kids compete.

Newt's twin sister, Kenlee, currently leads her age division (14-18) this season, and the family will open the NH Arena in time for the July 2-3 inaugural Newt Hodge Rodeo. The event is co-hosted with DD Rodeo Company.

"Between tending commercial chicken houses, going to the rodeo and getting NH Arena ready, it's been nonstop for us since March," Brandie Hodge said. "The community has been responsive, and they're tickled to see something going in instead of the field going to waste."

The genesis of transforming Scalet Field began with a comment from Newt Hodge when he asked his dad Joe, if something could be done about the underused football field.

"He just asked me one day why no one was using it, and thought it would make a good spot for a rodeo arena," Joe Hodge said. "All it needed was a holding pen. It already had bleachers and lights. We didn't think much of it at the time, but after his accident, everything just began to fall into place."

The arena was once the home for the Hartford Hustlers, which was the first school to play a night game in western Arkansas in 1930. The school's size dwindled below 350 for all grades and closed to consolidate with nearby Hackett in 2015.

Since then, the school has sat empty. 

In March, the Hodges, with help from friends and family, began to transform Scalet Field.

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A parade will take place July 3 at noon. The rodeo will feature its stable of events, in addition to mutton busting, wild pony races and a calf scramble. It's a sanctioned ACRA, ARA and CRRA event.

"We've had great support from the community and our rodeo family," Brandie Hodge said. "It has been an endless amount of family and friends who have contributed to this transformation."