Steer Roping slack on Monday, May 1 in Guymon, Oklahoma signaled the beginning of the town’s ProRodeo, Guymon Pioneer Days. Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena will be bustling with five straight days of slack before the first of four performances begin Friday night, May 6.
Here are 12 interesting facts about the rodeo, which is a stop on the PRCA’s NFR Playoff Series.
- Originated during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, Pioneer Days was envisioned to bring visitors to town; it was held on the anniversary of the Organic Act of 1890 which officially created the Oklahoma Territory and included “No-man’s land,” the Oklahoma panhandle which had previously been part of Texas.
- Pioneer Days Rodeo is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2022. They’ve adopted the tagline: #90ProofAndStillKicking.
- Guymon’s home, the Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena, was built in the 1960’s. Prior to its construction, the rodeo was first held downtown—using cars and pickups for fences—and later, on the high school football field.
- Pioneer Days is a ten day celebration which begins with a college rodeo the weekend prior to the ProRodeo, and includes a pancake breakfast, parade, carnival, mercantile craft show, 5K Run & Walk and golf tournament. Slack for the PRCA events begin on Monday and things roll right straight on through the week.
Keepin’ It Western
- Team roping is different in Guymon as competitors rope muleys instead of horned cattle. In the week prior to the rodeo, the community hosts a muley gathering as a local rancher provides the cattle for the rodeo each year. The score is also longer and the barrier is hand pulled.
Community Effort and Award Recognition
- Despite being hosted by a small community of just about 13,000 people, committee added purse is $7,500. That translated into a total payout of almost $33,000 in 2021 for WPRA barrel racers.
- Guymon was named the 2012 WPRA Medium Rodeo of the Year, the same year it was awarded the Justin Best Footing Award for the Prairie Circuit. The rodeo also was the 2022 PRCA Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year and was enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2015.
WPRA Barrel Racing
- Guymon typically gets about 1,000 contestants. In 2022 there are 169 barrel racers entered. Barrel racing comes at the end of the week with a full round on Friday morning at 8 AM. The top 40 times advance into the four perfs: Friday night, two on Saturday, and the Sunday matinee. The rest of the competitors take a second run Friday beginning at 1 PM.
- TEL Oil and Gas sponsors a hamburger lunch free for all the barrel racing contestants following the first go round on Friday morning each year. TEL Oil and Gas is owned by the Long family, long time rodeo supporters.
Always A Race
- Success in Guymon is generally a beacon of a good year. The barrel racing champions in nine of the last fourteen years went on to the Wrangler NFR later that year. The other five all went to the Finals within a year or two of their Guymon titles.
- In 2021 Guymon foreshadowed the WPRA World title race that played out at the Wrangler NFR seven months later when Jordon Briggs and Hailey Kinsel tied for the win. The pair battled down to the wire for the World Championship in December with Briggs coming out on top.
- Only Kinsel is back to defend the Guymon championship; Briggs is not on the entry list for 2022. In addition to Kinsel, past Guymon champions in the field include Sherry Cervi (2012), Shelley Morgan (2020), Tracy Nowlin (2017), Tana Poppino (2010) and Shali Lord (2015). The field also boasts two dozen Wrangler NFR qualifiers in the barrels alone.