Guymon, located in the heart of the Oklahoma Panhandle, with a population of about 12,000, is not known for its festivities. But once a year, the Guymon Pioneer Days celebration consumes this small town and pays tribute to those who first tamed the sometimes inhospitable terrain. “It’s just a celebration of what our forefathers did,” said attendee Jesse Martin, 67. “This can be a pretty harsh area. They went through some pretty tough years and stuck it out and had a lot of tenacity.”
Pioneer Days is a week-long celebration of Guymon and has grown over the years, gathering awards like the Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year and attracting visitors from around the region. The event includes four rodeo performances, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, mutton bustin’, a parade, carnival and dances.
“The city fathers back in the 1930s wanted to create an event to help people who were going through the Great Depression,” said Ted Harbin, the event’s media director. This, he said, was an opportunity to “celebrate despite all this.”