The Pioneer Days Celebration has its roots in the Depression era of the early 30’s, when Guymon was the epicenter of the “Dust Bowl”. City fathers were looking for a way to bring folks to town, and a reason to celebrate in the midst of hard times. They chose the anniversary of the Organic Act, which on May 1, 1890 made “No Mans Land” a part of the territory of Oklahoma. The first weekend of May was designated as Pioneer Days, and has been since 1933.
The rodeo has always been the cornerstone of the Pioneer Days Celebration. Originally, the rodeo was held adjacent to the Grain Elevator downtown, with a temporary arena held up by cars and pickups that parked around the outside. Later, the rodeo moved to the newly constructed high school football stadium. A temporary arena was erected on the field, and the rodeo was held on the grass. As one might imagine, this was not very good for the grass, and some rodeo momentos could still be found on the field come the start of football practice.
Finally in the late sixties, the Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena was constructed on city land along Sunset Lane. Situated in a natural draw, the arena provides a unique setting for Oklahoma’s richest rodeo.
The Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo has experienced unprecedented growth in the last few years. Invited to be a part of the first year of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour in 2000, it has been a part of the Pro Tour ever since. The very top contestants in the PRCA come to Guymon for their last chance to qualify for the Winter Tour Finale, which will be held this year at the Orleans in Las Vegas the third weekend in May. In 2003, the rodeo was the 8th largest regular season rodeo in the PRCA, and the 4th largest outdoor rodeo in the PRCA, with a total payoff of $344,562.00. And, in 2002 Guymon was voted by the top 100 contestants in each event as the Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year.
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