By Eric Butler
Fifty bull riders, 64 barrel racers and 49 calf ropers. That’s just the beginning of a steady stream of cowboys and cowgirls that will go in and out of the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena over the next three days.
The 35th annual Pioneer Days Rodeo, a PRCA-sanctioned event, will begin tonight will the usual array of rodeo events and entertainment — as well as a little something extra to kick it all off.
“I think one highlight is before the rodeo begins. We’re having the rodeo encounter, where people can bring their kids out and they can get a first-hand education about the rodeo,” said Bob Lacy, treasurer of the Curry County Mounted Patrol — the organizing group for the event.
The rodeo begins each day at 8 p.m., while the Thursday rodeo encounter is one day only at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re going to have a mechanical bull, a mechanical horse and even a mechanical roping dummy that they can rope. Some of the professionals will be there to show them what they do,” said Dewey Pierce, captain of the Mounted Patrol. “The kids can get on and have their pictures taken by their parents.”
As for the rodeo itself, there are 322 entries for the seven events — bull riding, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, calf roping and barrel racing.
“I think we’re going to have a good one. We’ve got a lot of good entries,” Pierce said.
Among the expected competitors are world champion calf roper Monty Lewis from Hereford, top-ranked bareback rider Ryan Gray from Cheney, Wash., as well as Arizona’s Cody Hancock and Colorado’s Jason McClain — both champion bull riders. Kory Koontz and Jake Barnes, a top-five ranked team roping duo, will also be part of the rodeo action.
Always an important part of rodeos, the entertainment portion will be provided by John Harrison of Soper, Okla., who specializes in trick riding and roping. Popular rodeo clown Leon Coffey returns once again and he also take part of the rodeo encounter.
Pierce also noted that 10 teams of wild cow milking will be spread out over the three-day event. The event features area competitors — non-professionals at that.
“They’ve got to live within a 100 miles from Clovis,” said Pierce of the event that requires competitors to fill a coke bottle full of milk. “It sounds real easy to talk about it, but those cows don’t usually like you messing with them. Especially if it’s a little rainy or muddy, they really slop those boys around.”