Pioneer Days gets a twist

Children scramble to find their boots during the 29th annual Little Bucaroo Rodeo/Clovis Pioneer Day’s 5-and-under boot race in June 2004 at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer

Most of Clovis has seen a rodeo — specifically the annual Pioneer Days Rodeo at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena, which runs this year from Thursday through Saturday.

But the 2005 festivities offer a new twist to the standard rodeo fare. Not only will attendees get to watch the festivities — they will have a chance to participate. For the first time in its 35-year history, Clovis’ Rodeo Days will include a hands-on option.

Between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Thursday, attendees will have the chance to ride mechanical bulls and horses, and try their hands on a mechanical roping aparatus.

“The kids are going to be able to rope on the dummies,” said Mounted Patrol President Dewey Pierce. “They can also get on the mechanical bulls to take their pictures.”

Additionally, attendees will be able to rub elbows with rodeo stars and chat with the rodeo clowns.

“Our goal is to deliver a close-up and personal look at the sport of rodeo,” Pierce said. “Rodeo has been gaining in popularity over the last few years. We’ve arranged to have contestants on hand to mix and mingle with the fans, to give them a hands-on experience.”

This year’s contestants will hail from the Texas and Turquoise circuits of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

And what would a rodeo be without rodeo queens?

Miss Rodeo America Selena Ulch and Miss Rodeo New Mexico, Portales’ Brittany Bennett, will also join the fray. Their ranks will be joined by all of this year’s Miss Rodeo New Mexico pageant winners.

The queens will be formally introduced at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, right before that evening’s 2005 Pioneer Days PRCA Rodeo kickoff.

Wilma Fulgham, who has worked with the Miss New Mexico pageant for more than 50 years, said it is not the average beauty contest.

“It’s a contest of horsemanship and talent,” Fulgham said. “My joy is to see them develop into fine young women and to improve their communication skills and think on their feet.”

Other major highlights include a Wednesday barbecue at Bender Dodge, a host of Little Buckaroo Rodeo events, and the Pioneer Days Parade, set for 10 a.m. Saturday on Main Street in Clovis.