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Pioneer Days is in limbo; committee continues to monitor coronavirus

GUYMON, Okla. – The new normal isn’t quite normal to most, but the safeguards that have been put in place were developed to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

Still, that leaves several community events in limbo, including the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“The reality we are facing is that this thing is global,” said Mitch Egger, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We’ve decided to take a serious, common-sense approach to what we are going to do with Pioneer Days Rodeo, and we think that’s the best avenue at this point.

“Instead of making a knee-jerk reaction or a panicked decision, we have decided to allow time to lead us. We are keeping an eye on the situation and how it affects Oklahoma, this region and this community. We understand the need for social distancing at this point, and we support that. But what’s it going to be like a month from now, much less a month and a half from now when the rodeo is scheduled?”

The COVID-19 virus is a worldwide pandemic, and as of Tuesday, 17 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Oklahoma, none of which have been identified in the three counties in the Oklahoma Panhandle. No cases have been reported western Kansas, and none have been reported in all of the Texas Panhandle.

“What those figures tell us is that we need to be diligent in our approach to this pandemic and to make sure we do right by the people that would be part of our rodeo, whether it’s the cowboys, the fans, the sponsors or our volunteers,” said Ken Stonecipher, a longtime member of the Pioneer Days Rodeo committee. “With that, though, we realize the importance of continuing a very strong community event if possible. That’s why we are in a holding pattern right now.

“The last thing we need to do is make a rash decision that could impact this community.”

The committee’s directors will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation over the coming weeks and expect to make a more educated decision on April 9. Even then, the directors said, plans can be altered for everyone’s well-being if the need arises.

“We’re in an unprecedented situation,” Egger said. “We’re really not sure what the next step is, but I think we can all agree that doing something now that we may regret later would be a bad idea. Let’s give this thing some time and see what happens in the weeks ahead.

“Yes, we have things we’d like to get done, and we have sponsors and others in this community that have invested in Pioneer Days Rodeo 2020, but we must proceed with caution and make the best decisions we can based on the information we have at the time.”


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