Events center makes Pioneer Days special

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Rhett Guthrie, 6, of Clovis reaches for the flag during the Little Buckaroo Rodeo flag competition Monday at the Curry County Special Events Center. Rhett said he has been riding since he was 2. The Little Buckaroo Rodeo continues tonight.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The crown jewel of this year’s Pioneer Days festivities is sure to be the county’s new Special Events Center, according to organizers.

“Thank goodness it’s indoors, our weather is true to form,” organizer Wilma Fulgham said with a chuckle as clouds threatened showers and winds picked up Monday afternoon.

A variety of events are set to take place all week, beginning with the Little Buckaroo Rodeo on Monday night, to pageant activities and ending Saturday with the traditional morning parade and evening rodeo events.

The opportunity to attend a rodeo at an indoor arena seems to be a draw, Curry County Mounted Patrol President Richard Hadley said, and might be the reason for an increase in contestants this year.

“Last year on Thursday the wind blew so hard, you couldn’t hardly stand in the arena… It’s hard to put up your money and ride halfway across the country and have it rain and be knee deep in mud,” he said.

For local youngsters to try their hand at riding sheep, Fulgham said the popular “Mutton Busting” competition introduced last year will take place every night during the professional rodeo.

In addition, several other activities aim to encourage local participation, according to Hadley, who said Pioneer Days will include a Tuesday team roping event for local competitors, nightly “Wild Cow Milking” and a Saturday night bonus round for team ropers.

“We’re trying to get more of the local people involved in the rodeo, instead of just going out and watching the big boys,” Hadley said.

“This is cowboy country around Clovis… There’s a lot of good cowboys in this area.”

Fulgham said several traditions would continue this year, including the 8-year-old Pioneer Women’s breakfast Friday morning, and some new ones would be introduced.

Among the new events, Wednesday evening is scheduled to see a Miss Rodeo New Mexico ice cream social and party, where pageant contestants will participate in a home-baked cookie contest.

Friday evening, Central Baptist Church will host a hospitality meal for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo contestants and their guests, Fulgham said.

But after 39 years of involvement in Pioneer Days, Fulgham said the highlight of this year will definitely be the events center.