GUYMON, Okla. – Five years ago, the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo was decorated with its highest honor when it was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
It’s just gotten better since then, and that bodes well for this year’s event, set 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 feel pretty fortunate that we’re able to put on a rodeo in this trying year,” said Mitch Egger, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We have been diligent to make sure Pioneer Days Rodeo happened this year, and we’re excited for the competition to begin.”
The contest begins Tuesday, Aug. 18, with steer roping and barrel racing. It will continue through the final performance on that Sunday afternoon. This year’s rodeo features more than 800 entries, further proof that America is eager to get back to normal after struggling for months through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Roughly half of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s nearly 700 events have been affected by the virus. Guymon’s rodeo was postponed until this week, three and a half months behind its traditional dates.
“We had originally hoped to have our rodeo in May as we’ve always done, but that just wasn’t possible given the climate at the time,” Egger said. “We found dates that would work for most everybody associated with the rodeo, and we decided to just go for it.
“The good news for us is that everybody is hungry for the competition, for the entertainment and to just celebrate what Pioneer Days is all about here in Guymon and this region.”
This year marks the 88th year for Pioneer Days, which began in the 1930s as a way to direct people to town during the “Dust Bowl” era and make it a community celebration. It has continued into the next century and continues to thrive.
“We’ve been very blessed to have so much support for this event,” said Ken Stonecipher, a longtime rodeo committee member. “Many of our longtime sponsors have stuck with us this year, and we appreciate that.
“Because of the sponsors that are part of our rodeo, we’re able to really showcase a great rodeo to this community. We also get to expose the cowboys to the people here and show them what makes this place special.”
Across the nation and around the world, the pandemic has featured a wave of destruction and discontent. Schools closed, events canceled and life stopped for most. The new normal is an adjustment to daily life, but like the Pioneer Days celebration itself, there comes a time to reflect on what things were like not so long ago.
“We had to cancel our college rodeo in April, and we had to postpone our rodeo that was supposed to be a week later,” Egger said. “Rodeo needed Guymon to happen, and we need this rodeo. It’s something we need to do to celebrate together.”