"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pioneer Days

This summer is flying by and I feel like I haven't had hardly any time to enjoy the lazy days of summer. Here it is already late July. Before long it's going to be time for back-to-school preparations. Happily, my favorite week of every summer is happening right now! It's  Pioneer Days time here in O-town so this next few days will be full of activities. 

Photo courtesy of Only in Ogden, image by Bryan J. Smith
Pioneer Days is Utah's statehood celebration. July 24 is our state holiday which commemorates the day in 1847 when Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley from Emigration Canyon. This link gives a little more detailed history about the day if you're interested. In a nutshell, 24th of July celebrations are huge, and one of the best in the state is Ogden's Pioneer Days. Our rodeo has been named the Best Rodeo in the Wilderness Circuit numerous times. It's also been nominated five times as the best rodeo in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, making it one of the top 20 rodeos in the country from a group of 700. I'm not much of a rodeo fan, but I love the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo! Just the setting alone is reason enough to go. Look at the rodeo grounds with the mountains in the background. I never get tired of that view. 

With Aimee at the 2010 rodeo 
My earliest memory of the rodeo was when I was probably around five or six years old. My aunt and uncle were visiting and took me with them. I remember being so excited about going even though I had no idea what a rodeo was. I couldn't even pronounce the word, saying radio instead of rodeo. I remember them correcting me repeatedly on the ride there and wondering why it mattered. I was going to the radio with two of my favorite people! 

The 24th of July celebrations don't just happen the week of the 24th. All of July is full of activities centered around the holiday. At the downtown Farmer's Market last Saturday, gun shots rang out as I strolled through the booths. There wasn't mass hysteria or panic though. It was just a reenactment of an old West shootout complete with cowboys on horses. Another favorite of mine are the ponies, which decorate the streets of Ogden during July. Each one is sponsored by a business and painted with unique artwork. 

Weber County Sheriff Mounted Posse members
During the last few days leading up to the 24th, it seems like the entire city is dressed in western wear. People put on their boots, hats and chaps, including for work, as most businesses let their employees dress western during that week. It also isn't uncommon to see several rodeo queens around town dressed in their bright outfits complete with rhinestones and sashes, no matter the time of day. The annual Miss Rodeo Utah competition is held in Ogden the week before the 24th with contestants competing in horsemanship, public speaking, appearance and other categories. There's even a fashion show with all of the contestants modeling the latest in western apparel. The winner is crowned at the rodeo on the night of the 24th. 

So far there's already been the Horse and Hitch Parade, the Special Kids Rodeo, and the Downtown Hoedown kick-off party. The day of the 24th will start with an early morning pancake breakfast in the park followed by a parade. Closer to home, I'm looking forward to our annual neighborhood block party that's held every 24th of July. The night usually finishes  with fireworks, but there won't be any this year because of a fireworks ban in our area due to the very dry conditions. 

Even though I'm normally not much into horses or rodeo and I don't even own a pair of cowboy boots, I still love Pioneer Days. I think it's the sense of community pride that surrounds the celebrations that I like the most. For that one week we're all proud to show off our hometown and its many treasures. It's almost impossible not to get caught up in the spirit. During Ogden Pioneer Days week here in the wild west city of Ogden everyone is a cowboy or cowgirl, including me! 
Flashback Photo! Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night
at Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo -2009


  1. I wish I had a picture of you when you went to your first rodeo. You were dressed so cute. I love the photo of you and Gills.

  2. It sounds like a fine rodeo. I have been to a few in my days, but this one looks to be one I should try to visit. Love the "Tough Enough for Pink" picture! :-)

  3. I so agree about community pride and connecting with others in a big event like that. Everyone takes part -- and it really looks like fun even though I'm not sure rodeo would be my thing, either! LOVE those painted ponies!


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