This week marks an anniversary for me. It was 10 years ago that I embarked on Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo with my new bride.
We met there when I was covering the sport as the beat writer for The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper based in Oklahoma City. She was on the rodeo committee and had lived in the region for 13 years.
It’s always a homecoming for her, a proud graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University. But Pioneer Days is always special to me for many reasons, too. Besides meeting my bride in Guymon, it also is where I proposed to her during a Pioneer Days Rodeo fundraiser.
The committee was the first ProRodeo to hire me as a media relations specialist, believing in me even when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. On top of that, it’s annually one of the best rodeos I get to witness, with multiple stock contractors providing great bucking beasts and all the great timed-event contestants in the sport.
I was there when Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s great Dirty Jacket bucked for the first time, and he guided Jared Schlegel to the 2008 title. I was there when the rodeo used to have a match bronc riding on Sunday afternoon, with the event’s winner then trying to outscore one of the famed foursome: Robert Etbauer, Billy Etbauer, Dan Etbauer or Craig Latham. I was there when team ropers used to compete on fresh muleys, making for some amazing fun and incredible roping.
This year’s rodeo has 961 entries, a remarkable number. Based on my tabulations, there are 36 world champions in the field accounting for 97 gold buckles. Every performance will feature a big number of bucking horses and bulls that have been to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Mix that in with so many amazing cowboys and cowgirls, and you can see why it’s worth the price of admission to make it to one or more of the four performances, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
If you can’t be there, be sure to check out my friend, Steve Kenyon, on www.ProRodeoLive.com. He’ll bring you all the insights you may miss in a broadcast that is like no other.