Ogden Pioneer Days is back in the saddle with cornucopia of Western events
OGDEN — Hang onto your hats, pardners. Ogden Pioneer Days is coming for us at a dead gallop.
The annual cornucopia of pioneer-themed fun is now upon us, and while a few of the 2018 activities are already in the history books (the Horse & Hitch Parade, the Lindquist Fireworks and Pops Concert, the Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee ceremony), some of the biggest events are still ahead. Like the Miss Rodeo Utah competition. The best PRCA rodeo in the state. Not one, but two more parades. And, of course, fireworks.
Some events are free, others aren’t. But all are guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of even the most forlorn of dogies.
“It’s the biggest and best statehood celebration in Utah,” said Jeff Haney, an Ogden Pioneer Days spokesman. “And Pioneer Days is the only rodeo in Utah that’s ranked in the top five for large outdoor rodeos. This is a huge honor, to be ranked up there with Cheyenne Frontier Days and the other big, bad boys of the PRCA.”
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Haney says the rodeo, with its breathtaking outdoor setting in the refurbished Ogden Pioneer Stadium, has been the big draw during the Pioneer Days celebration. Last August, the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo was inducted into the PRCA Hall of Fame, an act that Haney called “a huge honor.”
Ogden’s Pioneer Days heritage runs deep, according to Haney. The annual celebration started in 1934, as a way to help get people through the Great Depression. Haney says the celebration continues to provide an enjoyable escape from the pressures of the world to this day
“You can enjoy a night out, and what is truly the Old West,” he said. “This is Ogden at its finest.”
One event that tends to get overlooked during the month is the parade on the morning of July 24th — the date, 171 years ago, that Mormon leader Brigham Young first set eyes on the Salt Lake Valley and uttered those now-famous words, “This is the right place.”
Haney said the crowds at the Ogden Pioneer Days Parade had been dwindling for a time, but they’ve bounced back in past few years.
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“I don’t think we have statistics on the numbers at the parade, but I’ve ridden in the parade for six years, and I think the crowds are coming back and getting more substantial,” he said.
Haney said the Pioneer Days Parade has to compete with other celebrations on July 24th, and organizers are trying to brand Ogden as a destination spot for the holiday. He’d like to see people come to Ogden for the parade in the morning, hang around in the afternoon to cool off at Pineview Reservoir or frequent some other recreation spot, and then hit the rodeo and fireworks that night.
“We want to build that 24th of July celebration here, so people don’t think of going to a parade elsewhere,” Haney said.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.
OGDEN PIONEER DAYS EVENTS
• The Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo runs at 7:30 p.m. daily, except Sunday, through Tuesday, July 24, at the Ogden Pioneer Stadium, 668 17th St. Pre-rodeo events start at 6:30 p.m., featuring everything from mutton busting to wild cow milking contests. Tickets range from $11 to $40, available at the Pioneer Days headquarters, 1810 Washington Blvd.; through Smith’s Tix (801-467-8499 or smithstix.com); or at the stadium box office.
• The Miss Rodeo Utah contestant speeches will be presented at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 21, in the Ogden Eccles Conference Center Junior Ballroom, 2415 Washington Blvd. Admission is free.
• The Miss Rodeo Utah Fashion Show & Silent Auction begins at noon Monday, July 23, in the Ogden Eccles Conference Center. Tickets are $45, but organizers expected it to be sold out by press time.
• The Miss Rodeo Utah Freestyle Horsemanship Competition will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 23, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium. The competition is included in the price of a rodeo ticket.
• The Ogden Pioneer Days Parade begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 24, on Washington Boulevard, between 30th Street and 20th Street. Admission is free. The parade will be preceded by a children’s parade at 8 a.m. The children’s parade is open to all participants.
• Fireworks! The annual Ogden Pioneer Days celebration concludes with the traditional fireworks display following the rodeo on Tuesday, July 24, in Ogden Pioneer Stadium. Watching from outside the stadium is free.
For more information, call the Ogden Pioneer Days headquarters at 801-621-1696.