Guymon reveres rodeo honorees

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GUYMON, Okla. – Much has happened in this community over the last 22 years.

There’s been growth; Guymon’s population has increased by 1,500 people. There’s been development; a casino dots the landscape, and there are more hotel rooms than ever before.

One thing that’s remained consistent is the biggest event in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo continues to thrive, and the organizers are gearing up for this year’s event, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5. More than two decades ago, it was honored as the 2002 PRCA Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year.

“There have been a few changes with our rodeo since then, but the main aspect of it is still the same: We want to produce one of the greatest events in the PRCA year after year to celebrate this community,” said Ken Stonecipher, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the rodeo. “We have outstanding volunteers who are really working hard to get everything ready for this year’s rodeo.”

It’s not without a tip of the cap to what’s happened in the past. This is the 92nd year of Pioneer Days Rodeo, an event that was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2015. A year ago, it was again nominated for rodeo of the year, this time in the medium category.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand how difficult it is to be nominated, especially for Medium Rodeo of the Year,” Stonecipher said. “That category has the most rodeos in the PRCA by far, so to be among the top five says a lot for our volunteers and for the people that support our rodeo.”

Why the change in size? Most of it has to do with the overall payout. In the early 2000s, Pioneer Days Rodeo was a PRCA tour event, which meant the local dollars had to be above a high threshold. The rodeo also had to have a championship round. In an effort to maintain community support and help cowboys and cowgirls with their travel plans, the committee opted to make the changes necessary.

As with anything in life, Guymon’s rodeo has continued to evolve. The contestants have recognized that, which is a big reason why the committee was recognized in 2023.

“In order to be nominated, a rodeo has to receive the votes from the PRCA members, and that includes the cowboys,” Stonecipher said. “We’ve always been an event that caters to the contestants. We’ve adjusted our slack schedule to make it easier, and we’re always finding ways to improve.”

While it’s recognized as a cowboys’ rodeo, those in the community are likely the greatest beneficiaries. Whether they sponsor the rodeo or just make sure they’re in attendance, an exceptional event offers them the opportunity to celebrate the greatness that happens inside the arena during a week of world-class competition.

It’s not just the local committee that has been honored. The event’s producer, Frontier Rodeo, is a nine-time winner of the PRCA’s Stock Contractor of the Year. Frontier has also had several horses that have won annual honors, while Cody Webster is the reigning three-time Bullfighter of the Year and Amanda Sanders has won Secretary of the Year.

“We’ve got the best in the business, and I think that says a lot for our rodeo, too,” Stonecipher said. “We have the kind of rodeo a lot of communities would love to have.” There are a lot of great things happening in Guymon the first weekend in May.


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