By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Though they figure the timing of Curry County’s centennial helped matters, organizers estimated participation in last week’s Pioneer Days saw small changes.
The number of floats at the parade was slightly higher than normal, and the rodeo’s attendance was down a little, they said.
“I think it went well overall,” organizer Wilma Fulgham said.
She said mid-day events like the Little Buckaroo Rodeo and early events like the Curry County Patrol’s team roping were well attended, and everybody she talked to enjoyed having events inside the climate-controlled Curry County Special Events Center for the first time.
Curry County Mounted Patrol President Richard Hadley said attendance for the three nights of the rodeo was about 4,500 — 1,250 Thursday, 1,500 Friday and 1,800 Saturday — slightly lower than last year.
“I think it could have been a bigger drop,” Hadley said, if not for the indoor facility. “I think the wind blew nearly every night during the rodeo. We were inside, things turned out good.”
Hadley said he had his concerns about attendance at the center when he went to a Shenandoah concert held there and counted a low turnout — about 800 people for a $15 show.
“It costs you $40 to see them anywhere else,” Hadley said.
Parade organizer John Montano said there were 83 entries for Saturday’s parade. While he was pleased with that number, he had been hopeful Curry County’s 100th year could help push the entry total near 100 as well.
“I expected a little more with the centennial, but I thought it was a good turnout. You always want better, but (you should) just be glad with what you’ve got,” Montano said.
Fulgham said things she’d like to work on for next year’s Pioneer Days include increasing the amount of contestants for the Miss Rodeo New Mexico contest and creating more events to fill the gap between Saturday morning’s parade and that evening’s rodeo.
“Saturday afternoon is a down time for people,” she said.