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May 09th, 2021

pioneer days fileThis barrel racer takes part in the festivities during a past Guymon Pioneer Days rodeo. After being canceled last year, this year’s rodeo events will take place this weekend. A full schedule can be found through the Guymon Chamber of Commerce Web site. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Springtime typically brings out the rodeo season and this weekend, people in the area will be able to catch up with a multi-decade tradition. 

The Pioneer Days rodeo events, along with many other activities, will be happening this weekend, and with last year’s event forced to be canceled due to COVID-19, committee member Jim Quimby said he is happy to be back in the arena this year. 

“It's absolutely wonderful. Last year, we'd actually planned on just delaying the rodeo, but then circumstances forced us to outright cancel it, and there were a lot of the other events we weren't able to have,” Quimby said. “But for this year, we're proud to say we're back at full strength with a full schedule from the parade, the mercantile, everything is happening. We have an all-time record number of entries for this year, and if that's any type of sign, we think we'll have a huge crowd this weekend. I'm glad to have everything back – the excitement, the crowds, everything. You can feel it in the air this is going to be a really big event with a lot of participation. We've got the best cowboys and cowgirls in the U.S. who come to Pioneer Days, and we have a lot of champions who will be there. Fortunately, during the past few weeks, things have been opening up successfully and masks are encouraged but more optional than required. We've also got several sanitation stations throughout the grounds where people can clean themselves up if they need to. We're doing everything we can to keep things as good as possible.”

Pioneer Days 2021, themed Bandits and Bandanas, will be featuring all of the event’s favorite activities including the rodeo, the parade, the arts and crafts show, and the carnival, among many other activities. With everything that will be going on, Quimby said he was excited when it was announced Pioneer Days 2021 would be happening. 

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“It was a great feeling and there was a lot of excitement when everything was made official. It makes the whole area excited to do things again and go back to some semblance of normal,” Quimby said. “We've got a record amount of entries with pretty much everything, and Seaboard Foods actually bought out the performances for Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, so anyone who wants to come to one of the performances this weekend can come for free, and Seaboard did that since this year is its 25th anniversary, and they've always been a great sponsor. We have to thank Seaboard Foods for doing that, it's really special they came to us wanting to do that for the event, and they've also got some giveaways they'll be doing throughout the performances.”

Miss Rodeo Canada Alicia Erickson and Miss Rodeo California Morgan Laughlin said they are also excited for this weekend’s festivities. 

“As Miss Rodeo Canada, this is my first time to Oklahoma, and this year is the first time a Miss Rodeo Canada has come to Oklahoma for the Guymon Pioneer Days,” Erickson said. “That's really cool because with where we're at in the world, I might not have been able to go to this rodeo if it wasn't for everything going on. But we're making this into a positive situation and I'm really happy to be here and experience one of the greatest rodeos I've heard about in the U.S. from a lot of my fellow queens.”

“California has been rather locked down, so all of our rodeos were canceled, so I was really happy for the chance to come to Guymon, and I know the organizers have done a fantastic job putting everything together for this year,” Laughlin added. “It's gotten even bigger and better than the last time I was here, so it will be great being able to be there and see all the fans in the stands.”

All three added there has already been plenty of activity, with more to come this weekend. 

“We've been running SLACK since Monday, and we finished up a couple days of timed events earlier this week, and there were a lot of participants with those,” Quimby said. “We had nearly 200 barrel racers who participated, so there was a lot of that to watch as well. Thursday night was when we had our Rex Bugby Memorial Championship Classic, and that's where participants had to ride two saddle broncs, and that was a limited entry. Then our first performance is tonight, which is also our Tough Enough to Wear Pink night, so I encourage everyone to wear a pink shirt. We'll have two performances, one at 2 p.m. and one at 7 p.m., and mutton busting will happen about 45 minutes before those get started.”

“There's also a kids' clown contest, and we queens will be judging all of those entries, so that should be really cute,” Laughlin said. “The Point Rock Riding Club will be rolling into town today and then the Guymon Lions Boat & Trains will start at 6 p.m. Then Saturday morning starting at 7:30 is the Pioneer Days 5K walk/run, and then the rest of the day is full of the parades and food and other fun events before the rodeo performance.”

“Then Sunday will start with Cowboy Church at 10 a.m., and everyone's welcome to that at the arena, and then we have that afternoon's performance,” Erickson said. “And something that's really cool with that is the Command General's Mounted Color Guard from Fort Riley, they'll be doing an exhibition and showing off some stuff, so that should be really cool to see. There will be something for everyone that's for sure.”

Laughlin and Erickson added they have had a lot of fun in their respective Miss Rodeo roles. 

“The most fun thing for me is the parades – every town we go to, the rodeo has a parade that precedes it. I've actually only been in two parades during my time as Miss Rodeo Canada, so I'm excited to be in my third parade Saturday at 10 a.m., and there will be cowpokes and queens and horses and all kinds of cool stuff to see,” Erickson said. 

“I love visiting the schools and talking to the children, especially coming from California, where a lot of school is still being done virtually,” Laughlin added. “Getting to go into a classroom and interacting with the children is just absolutely fun and it's something I've missed with all this going on.”

Laughlin and Erickson also talked about how they have kept busy throughout the pandemic. 

“I've become very Zoom-savvy and I've done Zoom interviews with rodeo athletes in California and I also got to talk with one from Louisiana,” Laughlin said. “The state's cattle holders have been so good about making little videos to put together to send to classrooms and for social media and things like that. We also did some Queen in Quarantine videos, which was really fun because each of us had a part, like one showed how to do hair, another showed how to do makeup, and another showed how to saddle a horse, things like that. It's been about using social media and other technology as best as possible and making the best out of the situation.”

“I would agree, at least one good thing that's come out of all of this is so many of us are on social media all the time anyway, and it's a great way for us to spread the word about what we're doing with the rodeo world and things like that,” Erickson added. “We were able share our sponsors and some history and promote what all was going on in our world and do it in a way where it could be shared with everyone.”

Overall, all three agreed, there are some high expectations for this year. 

“We're expecting some really big crowds this year, especially since there are so many more entries than in the past and also since we weren't able to do this event last year. Everything should be really big and really good for this year,” Quimby said. “Last year was definitely tough for everyone on the planning committee, so to be able to have Pioneer Days this year is great and everyone has worked so hard to make sure everything is running smoothly and everything is going how it should. Everything really fell into place for this year, and we're so grateful and lucky for that.”

“People are happy to be out and about again, and people love rodeo and watching everything that happens with that. People are excited to also see friends again and get out and watch the best sport on dirt. I think everything's going to turn out great and there's going to be a lot of people there this time around,” Erickson added.

“And the rodeo athletes themselves are also happy to be back out again, this is how they make their livelihood and this is what they love,” Laughlin said. “I also expect a lot of those athletes will come into this year better than ever, which should make the competition just amazing since they've had the extra practice time and the extra time at home prior to coming to some of the best dirt for rodeo.”

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