GUYMON, Okla. – Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena is classic and timeless, a natural bowl created by the landscape to offer spectators a perfect venue.
While it serves as the perfect setting for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, it has been in need of a facelift or two over the years. It has received another in anticipation of this year’s event, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7.
“We’re replacing our bucking chutes with some new Priefert chutes that not only look good but will help us with the production of our rodeo,” said Jeremy Carman, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “The chutes we’re replacing have been around as long as I can remember.
“Those chutes served this community well over the years, but it was time they were replaced.”
It’s been a big undertaking, and the volunteers are putting in the bulk of the labor. The chutes, which face the primary grandstands on the west side of the arena, will be sparkling Priefert blue and will match the timed-event chute and boxes on the north end. Joe Ballard of Joe’s Custom Concrete is donating the concrete needed for the project.
“Joe has been a good partner to Pioneer Days Rodeo,” Carman said. “He’s helped us several times over the years.”
There also will be eight bucking chutes, which is an increase of two, and will be set up to allow for better spacing. The bucking chutes will be tied into the existing back pens, and enhancements will be made to ensure the transfers are all set and easily assessable.
“The thing about our arena is that it’s used all year long,” said Ken Stonecipher, the committee’s production director. “We have the big rush in the spring with the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo for the college followed by a week of Pioneer Days Rodeo. That’s when the arena and Guymon will have the most exposure, especially with our rodeo being on The Cowboy Channel.
“The arena is for the community’s use, and it’s been used well over time. We have ropings and monster truck rallies and concerts … all sorts of things for this community.”
Increasing the number of chutes opens more opportunities for sponsors while also enhancing production of the rodeo. Both are important factors when it comes to making everything look good during the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Rodeo April 27-29 and the Pioneer Days Rodeo, which begins competition just two days later.
“Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo has been around for 90 years and is still growing in positive ways for this community,” Stonecipher said. “This addition is going to help our arena look sharp, and when we’re on national television, these chutes are going to be a bright spot for our rodeo, for Guymon and for all the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“We are glad we partnered with Priefert for our timed-event end, and we’re really excited to put these new Priefert chutes to work. It’s a good move for our rodeo.”