GUYMON, Okla. – Some jobs just seem thankless, yet they still need to be done.
Welcome to the world of Danna Danner, Kristina Rodman and Heather Hoeffner. Danner and Rodman are in charge of concessions, while Hoeffner is in charge of the hospitality during the weeklong celebration that is the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for Monday, April 29-Sunday, May 5 at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
From organizing to ordering to planning the schedules of the other volunteers, it all falls on those three ladies.
“It’s a drug for me,” Rodman said. “I get a high from the adrenaline rush we get when we bust our butts. It’s just fun to run non-stop. The next week we’re about to die, but we do enjoy running like crazy that week.”
They must. Concessions are a valuable piece of the puzzle for any event. Fans who come to take in a show want refreshments. Oftentimes, it’s where they eat as a family as they enjoy their time in the stands. At a rodeo, the need for concessions increases because the competitors also are part of the crowd.
“I like being part of it and putting something back into the community,” said Danner, who became a member of the volunteer committee five years ago, then talked Rodman into joining her. “I just love it, and I love volunteering. It’s a rush to meet the deadlines.”
Their task is one of the most valuable assignments, too. The committee purchases all the food and drinks that they expect to serve over the seven days of competition, which is highlighted by the four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The profit is mixed with ticket sales and sponsorship money to pay all the expenses it takes to produce an event of this magnitude in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“Danna and Kristina do an amazing job with the concessions, because it takes so much to make it work every year,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the rodeo. “We have a lot of committee members and volunteers who put in countless hours to make our rodeo work, and I appreciate all of them and what they do.
“The concessions are so vital to our rodeo, and so are Danna and Kristina.”
Rodman and Danner are the spark plugs that run the engine, but there are numerous parts. There are two others who have stepped into leadership roles on the concessions sub-committee, and there are numerous others who make the machine click during rodeo week.
“To run a concession, we have to have 23 people to volunteer throughout the community,” Danner said. “The OPSU football players help us a lot.”
The help is necessary and appreciated. The rodeo is part of the community’s annual celebration, Pioneer Days, and serves as the largest event in the Oklahoma Panhandle with an economic impact of about $2 million. In addition to the thousands of fans who come to see the family-friendly entertainment, Guymon is home to nearly 1,000 cowboys and cowgirls who are coming to the region to compete at Oklahoma’s Richest Rodeo.
“We make a lot of money for the committee to help put this thing on,” Rodman said. “It’s very awesome to see our progress. I like knowing we can turn something around and make it successful. I like that we gave it a better name; it makes me proud when the other committee members tell us how well we’re doing and they’re scared that we’ll ever quit.
“That tells me we’re doing a good job, and that’s important to me.”
It’s important to the community, too.
“This is our 81st year as a rodeo, and as far as a community event, it helps with businesses,” Danner said. “We’ll have people hitting the stores, the gas stations, the restaurants because there are so many people in town.
“Pioneer Days has been here so long, it’s just part of Guymon. I can’t imagine the community without it. It’s important to me just being able to be part of it and knowing I’ve contributed to our community. We work our butts off, but that’s what makes us tick.”
The hospitality area is set up for contestants, personnel and sponsors who make the rodeo what it is, and Guymon’s has regularly been recognized by contestants as one of the best events in ProRodeo.
“I think people appreciate the hard work that we do to prepare everything,” said Hoeffner, who works closely with her husband, Ed, and Lanny and Vicki Wilson on the hospitality. “Every person that we talked to last year knew how much work went into it. They saw the hard work and the smiling faces that are serving them food.”
The Hoeffners and Wilsons brought a flavor of home to the metal-covered building. Though generous restaurant sponsors donated food, the personal touch was a hit with the contestants, families and friends of the rodeo.
“We wanted to change it to where it was home-cooked and where they could sit down and enjoy,” Heather Hoeffner said. “We probably have six to eight people that helped every night every year, but we have all kinds of other volunteers from the community that help with other things.
“We just want the people coming in to really enjoy themselves, and we work hard to make that happen.”
That’s what volunteering is all about.