With a little more than five weeks left before the opening of the 34th Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo, Aug. 8, 9 and 10 at Lakeside Arena in Pawnee, rodeo committee members, event organizers and construction workers are putting the final touches on a yearlong effort to bring together one of the International Professional Rodeo Association’s highest rated outdoor rodeos in the world.
Ronnie Jestes, chairperson of the rodeo committee, said this year’s production looks to be the biggest and best that Pawnee has ever done.
“This year will definitely be the biggest rodeo,” Jestes said. “We‘ve added about 175 more seats, including a number of box seats, and based on the recognition we’ve gotten from the IPRA membership, cowboys and cowgirls, I know we can expect the best talent the Association has to offer at our show.”
Jestes credits the hard work and dedication not only of the rodeo committee, but also the office and support staff of the rodeo and the skilled workman expanding the arena, for positioning the event to be the best ever.
“While everyone in the organizations deserves a shout out, I particularly want to recognize the efforts of Ronnie Gilley and Michael Wren, two fantastic welders and all around handymen. These guys have worked in high water and high heat to get our arena ready, without complaint,” Jestes said.
The Hampton Rodeo Company out of Springdale, Arkansas, returns to produce the Pawnee Bill Memorial for the 14th time. The Hampton Company is a 20-time IPRA Stock Contractor of the Year award winner. Monty Stueve from Perry is back as the announcer for a fifth production.
Trick rider Dusty Crane, an Illinois native, is the contract act and Colton Ulmer of Mount Vernon, Missouri, comes to Pawnee for the first time as the clown and barrel man. The Sweethearts of the Rodeo, an Oklahoma based precision horseback drill team, returns for nightly performances.
In addition to the eight sanctioned IPRA events the rodeo will also have a wild horse race, a wild cow milking contest, ranch bronc riding and a money-the-hard-way event each night.
Miss Rodeo USA Heather Morrison, of Letts, Iowa, is also scheduled to appear nightly in the Grand Entry and with the Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo Queen Pageant contestants.
A trade show of rodeo and western goods, apparel and equipment is available all three days inside the event center on the north end of the arena.
The rodeo is the highpoint of Western Heritage Week in Pawnee, which starts on Aug. 3 with the Old Time Saturday Night Cruze-In and vehicle extravaganza in downtown Pawnee. Church services will be held at the arena on Sunday; a playday for kids is scheduled for Monday evening; a youth rodeo is scheduled for Tuesday and the Buchanan Brothers Memorial Ranch Rodeo kicks off on Wednesday.
“We have a proven format that offers something for everyone throughout the week,” Jestes said. “With the generosity of our sponsors and the support of our fans we’re looking forward to a big week in Pawnee.”