The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Pioneer Days kicks off Wednesday

 


CLOVIS — Hold on to your hats — the rodeo is coming to town.

Entering its 48th consecutive year, the arrival of the annual Pioneer Days programming shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anybody. In fact, locally it’s as good a sign of summer as a Memorial Day remembrance or a rush of schoolchildren with time on their hands.

“Pioneer Days is always special every year because it’s basically the kickoff to summer and it’s a celebration of our pioneer heritage,” said Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos.

To that effect, programming for the four-day festivities include visits from rodeo queens, cowboy tailgates and vendors, historical sites and a breakfast for “pioneer women,” not to be confused with the line of cookware available at your local Walmart.

At the core of the events, naturally, is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo, kicking off Thursday night with discounted admission to military personnel and continuing Friday (wear pink for breast cancer) and Saturday nights at the Curry County Events Center.

Saturday at 10 a.m. is the Pioneer Days Parade with Police Chief Doug Ford as marshal. This year the theme is “Kids and Cowboys,” with organizer John Montano leading the effort for something close to his 30th year.

“We have a Pioneer Days committee, and every year we just come up with a theme that would be kind of fitting and this year we just thought, bring in the kids,” he told The News. “Kids are a big part of our area right here. That’s our future, you know, so we’re just trying to get everybody involved.”

Montano said he’s “expecting anywhere from 75 to 100” entries for the parade down Main Street, which will also be judged across six categories: marching/walking units, business and commercial floats, mounted units, antique vehicles, club/church/organization floats and a “miscellaneous” catch-all category.

Attendant to the “Kids and Cowboys” theme is an educational booklet to be available for children and curious adults alike, describing the various events and how they originated.

For Wilma Fulgham, who has been involved with the rodeo since 1971 and whose grandfather came to Farwell in a covered wagon in 1906, that perspective is important.

“I think (it’s important) because it’s the reality of our roots and the values of lifestyle that our pioneers portrayed, in that they endured such hardships to settle this country,” she told The News in a phone interview while getting her refrigerator repaired. “I think it’s important to realize where we came from and have a respect for everyone and those who came before us.”

Of course, much of the town’s history still carries vividly into the present. Fulgham said the programming this week tries to recognize three major pillars of the area’s growth in the past century -- agriculture, railroad and military.

Some new events this year are the “story hour” readings from rodeo queens, 10 a.m. Wednesday-Thursday at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. “Visiting royalty” in the coming days will include Miss Rodeo America and Miss Rodeo New Mexico, Fulgham said.

The rodeo kicks off with a barbecue, open to the public, 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Bender Dodge RAM.

 

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