Pioneer spirit lives on

Candra Allison, Miss Rodeo New Mexico 2004, from Las Cruces, visits with Milie Harris Friday at the Laurel Plains Health Care and Rehabilitation (formerly High Plains). The rodeo queens, along with rodeo clowns, were visiting patients at area nursing

By Janet Bresenham

Ten-year-old Keaton Reed found it difficult to narrow down his choice for what he liked best about the Pioneer Days Parade Saturday morning.
“Probably the balloons and the motorcycles and the tractors and the train,” said Reed, as he sat on the sidewalk organizing all the candy he caught on the bricks of Main Street.
He was one of many area residents and visitors experiencing sensory overload this weekend, as they watched the variety of 77 parade entries provide a glimpse at the events, activities and people who were part of the 33rd annual Pioneer Days celebration.
From rodeo queens and princesses astride well-groomed horses, balloon pilots and chase crews to children and senior citizens, this year’s festivities rode the gamut of activities.
The return of hot air ballooning to Pioneer Days after a 16-year absence brought hundreds of flight enthusiasts to Clovis for the weekend.
Meanwhile on Friday, several dozen women from the Curry County area started lining up 30 minutes early to get into the annual Pioneer Women of the West Breakfast at the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Public Library.
The women represent “all the heart and spirit that have gone into this country,” said Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce president Blake Curtis.
Mingling with the pioneer women were young girls and teens who will someday be able to share their own memories: the queens and princesses chosen to represent the Pioneer Days Rodeo, Miss Rodeo New Mexico, the New Mexico State Fair, Little Buckaroo Rodeo, Little Miss Rodeo New Mexico and Miss Junior Rodeo New Mexico.
From the breakfast, the young title holders conducted their annual goodwill tour through three nursing homes and the hospital in Clovis, accompanied by rodeo bullfighters, to talk individually with residents and hand out photos with personalized messages and their autographs.
For Carlene Sutton, 64, of Tucumcari, who was at Laurel Plains Health Care and Rehabilitation recovering from a knee replacement, the visit brought back fond memories of her late brother, Ted Bogart, who was a bullrider.
“I really enjoy the rodeo clowns, but I guess they call them bullfighters now,” Sutton said. “And I just like all of the girls. They’re precious.”
Sky Cathey, 9, of Pep came to the Curry County Fairgrounds Mounted Patrol Arena Saturday decked out in a vivid array of colors, a pink-rimmed cowgirl hat and her cheeks painted with a tear on one side and a heart on the other to compete as a Little Buckaroo rodeo clown.
Her 6-year-old brother Luke rode the calf for her, while she did her best to make it chase after her until she could get the bell off the calf, ultimately winning second place.
This year’s final weekend events for the Little Buckaroo Rodeo attracted fewer entries than usual, according to event organizer Wilma Fulgham. Still, enough children showed up to hold the scheduled competitions for calf riding, dummy roping and mutton bustin’, along with the rodeo clown/bullfighter finals.