Next weekend marks the 80th straight year of the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, and it’s quite the celebration.
I’ve been to at least one performance 10 of the last 12 years, and I’m always impressed by the production the volunteers present to the fans. There’s a reason it was named the 2002 Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year in the PRCA.
Guess what: It’s a much better rodeo than it was a decade ago.
This year, there were 886 entrants into the competition, which begins Monday and features seven straight days of ProRodeo’s very best in action. It works because the people in the Oklahoma Panhandle community make it work. They work all year long to raise the money it takes to put on one of the best events in the game every May.
It also works because of the schedule; Pioneer Days Rodeo is one of the biggest set for the first weekend of May. Contestants can fit it into their plans easily. The format works for the community, because the population explodes during rodeo week, and the contestants stick around, take in the hospitality and enjoy the community.
So how much does this rodeo mean to the contestants? A year ago, the committee had to decrease the purse, hoping and praying it would be a one-year deal. Because of other commitments, it meant cutting the added money in half, to $5,000 per event. Still, the number of contestants was better than most rodeos in Oklahoma in 2011.
This year the added money increased to $7,500, and it appears to be a hit.
It’s going to be a tremendous show. I’m glad I’ll be there.