GUYMON, Okla. – Much has changed over the last 89 years, since the inaugural Pioneer Days celebration in 1933.
A tradition was established. The times have changed. There are more cars and fewer horse-drawn buggies. There is television instead of sitting beside the radio. News is shared online and over social media; no more news reels at the theater.
Times change. Traditions don’t. The tradition continues at this year’s Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.
“The thing about our rodeo is that it’s a week long,” said Jeremy Carman, chairman of the committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We have a bunch of very dedicated volunteers that help make this thing happen because the only way to accommodate as many contestants as we get is to have seven days of competition.
“We have many of our committee members that take a week of vacation for this rodeo. It means that much to them. We know it’s important to the community, so we do everything we can to make sure it happens.”
Seaboard Foods is also helping by enabling everyone to experience the high-flying, big-time action of the rodeo by covering the cost of the Saturday and Sunday matinee performances. Anyone wanting general admission for those 2 p.m. shows can park and get in for free.
The main reason is because it’s the largest event annually in the community that draws thousands of people to town for the competition and entertainment. This year’s rodeo features a record number of 1,060 entries, and that includes dozens of world champions and many more contestants that have qualified for the National Finals Rodeo.
“I’d like to think we draw so many contestants because we put on a dang good rodeo,” Carman said, noting that the event was nominated as a Rodeo of the Year in 2020, 18 years after it was named the PRCA’s Large Rodeo of the Year in 2002. “I think the timed-event contestants like our format, and we give them all a good chance to win money.
“I also think the bull riders, bronc riders and bareback riders like that Frontier Rodeo is our primary stock contractor and that we have others that are part of our rodeo. All of that gives the cowboys a good chance to cash in.”
Frontier, which is based in nearby Freedom, Oklahoma, is the reigning six-time PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year and has had more bucking animals selected to perform at the NFR the last few years than any other livestock producer in ProRodeo.
There is a big list of top animal athletes that come out of the Frontier herd, but the biggest this year is a powerful buckskin mare named Gun Fire, which led Tilden Hooper to a $100,000 bareback riding victory at The American and was a big part of Tim O’Connell’s world record-tying 94-point ride at the Riggin’ Rally in early April.
Gun Fire is just one of a number of top buckers that is expected to buck inside the Hitch Arena gates. That’s what Frontier brings to the Oklahoma Panhandle each spring, and it’s why the rodeo committee has teamed with the Oklahoma firm.
After all, this is Oklahoma’s richest rodeo. It’s only right that the best in the business be here.