GUYMON, Okla. – The Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo is now on the fast track and racing toward its revised dates for 2020.
After postponing its annual May event because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the rodeo’s schedule is now set, with four performances planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug 22; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
“We are coming as strong as ever for this year’s rodeo, because we know Pioneer Days is important to this community,” said Mitch Egger, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual event. “We also realize we are an important stop for the cowboys and cowgirls that make a living in rodeo.
“This has been a tough year on all of us, and we are excited to show our resilience through this virus.”
The only changes come in the rodeo’s slack schedule to accommodate as many timed-event contestants as possible. Barrel racers have routinely competed on Friday morning and afternoon in a two-round affair. This year will feature only one round, allowing for a bigger payday to the top contestants because the purse will not be split between two rounds and an aggregate.
“Because so many rodeos have been canceled due to the virus, we suspect our number of barrel racers will be a record high,” said Ken Stonecipher, the production manager for the rodeo committee. “We didn’t think we’d be able to accommodate that many barrel racers with slack on Friday, so we’re breaking it up into slack on Tuesday (Aug. 18) and Wednesday (Aug. 19) evenings.”
The rodeo will also feature two rounds of men’s timed events instead of a two-round progressive with the third round taking place in the performances. Slack for those events will take place Thursday, Aug. 20, and Friday, Aug. 21, mornings. Steer roping will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
“With the two rounds of timed events, we’ll run the first round on that Thursday and part of the second round Friday morning,” Stonecipher said. “The rest of the second round will take place in the performances.
“We know these contestants have lost a lot of opportunities at earning money, so we want to give them the best chance to win as much money in Guymon as possible. We’re doing that with fewer go-rounds.”
The pandemic has interrupted many lives, and the rodeo offers a big of “back toward normal” for people in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The postponed rodeo will also see a return of all the major players who were part of last year’s event, including Stock Contractor of the Year Frontier Rodeo.
“The only difference we have this year is with our clown, Justin Rumford, who was already scheduled to work another rodeo at that time,” Stonecipher said. “Fortunately, we were able to pick up Robbie Hodges to return. We had a lot of people tell us how much they liked Robbie last year, so it’s good that he can be here again.
“The dates and the schedule are a bit different, but this is still Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo.”