OGDEN — Extreme sports will be at their finest during Ogden’s Pioneer Days — what with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo starting up this weekend at Ogden Pioneer Stadium.
If anyone questions the extreme nature of the sport, envision cowboys on the backs of huge bulls getting bucked off for audience entertainment, or riders racing at top speeds for the fastest time, or cowboys jumping off horses going 30 miles per hour to wrestle a steer.
Ogden boasts a high-level rodeo, having been nominated numerous times for the best rodeo of its size by the PRCA.
“The community needs to be proud of what we have put together and realize why it’s important we do what we do,” said rodeo director Dave Halverson.
“We need this as a community because it plays an important part in the moral fabric of our community, just like when this event began 80 years ago, when the economy was in a tough economic time, and we needed something as a community.”
Behind the scenes, the community may not realize what makes the rodeo a success, which Desiree Larsen, Ogden Pioneer Days sponsorship director attributes to the hundreds of hours put in by 500 volunteers.
Perhaps most importantly, she says, “Most people don’t realize our rodeo brings in the No. 1 PRCA stock contractor, who has been nominated for 10 consecutive years as the best in the nation.”
The admittedly expensive, but worth-every-penny, operation, Larsen says, is run by Stacie Smith of Smith Pro Rodeos, who started doing the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo nine years ago.
In addition to having Smith Pro Rodeos provide all of the bulls, horses, calves and steers, Ogden’s Pioneer Days Rodeo will have 83 percent of the top 15 cowboys competing in its events.
“That is unheard of for a rodeo our size. We will have one of the top 15 cowboys competing in every event except one, which is really exciting because they know they will be provided the very best stock they can win on, which makes for a unique, action-packed rodeo,” said Larsen.
Cody Kidd, general manager of Smith Pro Rodeos, says coming to Ogden is like visiting family.
“I know people think we say this all the time, but Ogden is absolutely one of the best crowds and committees to work with, and is second to none as far as facilities, so when we come to town, it is basically like family, because we have been coming for so long,” said Kidd.
“We get such a great response from the city because they are true rodeo fans, coming in early, staying late and packing the stands, cheering loud for everybody. Some places you go, it’s a conversation piece, but here, it’s a sport they love to watch.”
When asked why the operation’s stock is considered the best in the nation, Kidd says it all begins on 2,000 acres on company ranches in Texas.
“We try to pick the best out of our herd, with different divisions and an a, b and c team, but for Ogden, we bring the best we can,” said Kidd, who adds that Smith Pro Rodeos’ main focus in July is Ogden.
Halverson, who visits rodeos across the country with fellow committee members, says, “We’ve been to some of the top rodeos in the nation, and we truly have, in our opinion, one of the best, as far as rodeos and entertainment value, confirmed by the quality of stock and cowboys who enter.”
New this year to the rodeo is an event that has been nine years in the making.
Halverson saw a traveling Roman-style riding show at a rodeo in Reno, Nevada, and has been working with the committee to get the show to Ogden. Because of tight schedules, however, officials have only this year been able to fit Ogden into the schedule.
“It’s just an impressive display of what somebody can do to train and ride horses,” said Halverson.
Pioneer Days commemorate the settling of Utah by the Mormon pioneers, and Ogden’s rodeo fits right into that.
“This is a celebration of those people who have sacrificed and forged west and settled this area, whether you are of this faith or not. Their decisions have impacted our lives and provided opportunities for us, so it’s fitting that we celebrate and remember them,” said Larsen.
Friday, July 18
6 p.m. — Downtown Hoedown at Ogden’s Historic 25th Street, free
8 p.m. — Due West and Ty Herndon, Ogden Amphitheater, 343 25th St., tickets available through Smith’s Tix (800-888-TIXX), $10/advance, $15/door
Saturday, July 19
8 a.m.-1 p.m. — Farmers and Art Market, Municipal Gardens, 25th Street and Grant Avenue
2 p.m. — Miss Rodeo Utah Horsemanship Competition, Golden Spike Arena, 1000 N. 1200 West, free
6:30 p.m. — Pre-Rodeo Activities: Junior Posse, Wild Cow Milking and Mutton Busting, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, 668 17th St.
7:30 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo: National Day of American Cowboy, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, $12/adults, $6/ages 3 and older, free/2 and younger
Sunday, July 20
8 a.m. — PRCA Rodeo Slack Competition, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, free
Monday, July 21
1 p.m. — Miss Rodeo Utah Hall of Fame and Alumni Luncheon, Timbermine Steakhouse, 1701 Park Blvd., $30 (must be purchased by 11 a.m.; call Ogden Pioneer Days office, 801-621-1696)
6:30 p.m. — Pre-Rodeo Activities: Wild Cow Milking, Stick Horse Barrel Race and Mutton Busting, Ogden Pioneer Stadium
7:30 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo: Monday Family Day, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, $12/adults, $6/ages 3 and older, free/2 and younger
7:30 p.m. — Coca Cola All Stars, Ogden Pioneer Stadium
Tuesday, July 22
9 a.m. — Miss Rodeo Utah speeches, Ogden Summit Hotel, 247 24th St.
6:30 p.m. — Pre-Rodeo Activities: Musical Chairs and Mutton Busting
7:30 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo: Military Appreciation Night, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, $12/adults, $6/ages 3 and older, free/2 and younger; with government ID, $8/adults, $5 /ages 3 and older
Wednesday, July 23
Noon — Miss Rodeo Utah Fashion Show and Silent Auction, Eccles Conference Center, 2415 Washington Blvd., $45 (call 801-621-1696 no later than 11 a.m.)
6 p.m. —Miss Rodeo Utah Freestyle Horsemanship Competition, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, rodeo ticket required.
6:30 p.m. — Pre Rodeo Activity: Mutton Busting
7:30 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo: Tough Enough to Wear Pink, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, $12/adults, $6/ages 3 and older, free/2 and younger
Thursday, July 24
9 a.m. — Grand Parade on Washington Boulevard between 30th and 20th streets
6:30 p.m. —Pre-Rodeo Activity: Mutton Busting
7:30 p.m. — PRCA Rodeo: Pioneer Day State of Utah Holiday, Ogden Pioneer Stadium, $15/adults, $10/ages 3 and older, free/2 and younger
8:30 p.m.— Coronation of 2015 Miss Rodeo Utah
Fireworks following the rodeo