SALT LAKE CITY – More prize money, more cowboys and more for spectators to see and do. That’s how organizers of this year’s Days of ’47 Rodeo plan to revitalize the annual rodeo held every year as part of the celebration commemorating the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in 1847.
This is the heart of the rodeo season with hundreds of rodeos held in July across the West and into Canada. This weekend, three of Utah’s oldest, biggest and most well-known kick off with competitions beginning Friday night.
For the Days of ’47 Rodeo this summer’s season is significant because the event returns to EnergySolutions Arena after four years at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.
There are a number of changes that accompany that location switch, the most intriguing of which is the addition of a "Frontier Camp" on the plaza of EnergySolutions Arena.
“It’s brand new this year, and anybody can just walk up and do that,” said Greg James, executive vice president of the Days of ’47 Inc.
Frontier Camp includes five areas with experts and enthusiasts offering demonstrations and discussions with the public. There is a cost for the food being sold, but the rest of the experience is free. There will be a Native American camp, a Pioneer camp, a cowboy camp, a mountain men camp and a Buffalo Soldiers camp.
The rodeo will start earlier at 6:30 p.m. and move faster, despite attracting more cowboys and cowgirls than recent years with 394 participants registered.
“It will be a good time, and very fast-paced,” James said.
There are a number of promotions, including a concert with Lonestar included in Saturday’s rodeo admission and a discount for active military personnel on July 22.
The Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo gets underway Friday night as well. The outdoor competition attracts about 30,000 spectators annually and features long-tiime stock contractor Stace Smith and announcer Roger Mooney, who does his job just like the cowboys — on horseback.
The Ogden rodeo will also welcome Miss Rodeo America, who happens to be from Roosevelt, Chenae Shiner. She is a professional barrel racer, and she’ll be on horseback for the five performances.
The performances begin at 7:30 each night, but there are junior rodeo, junior posse, wild cow milking and mutton bustin’ beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday is Standard-Examiner Night, while July 20 is National Day of the Cowboy and Monday, July 22, is Patriot Night. Tuesday there is also a mini-bull competition at 6:30 p.m. On July 24 there are fireworks following the performance.
The Spanish Fork Fiesta Days Rodeo has enjoyed 26 consecutive sellouts. The stock is provided by Sankey Rodeo Company and the announcer is Randy Schmutz. The Fiesta Days Rodeo also features mutton bustin’, and like Ogden, is an outdoor venue. The performances start at 8 p.m. each night, and there are fireworks on the final night after the competition.
There are no Sunday rodeos in Ogden, Spanish Fork or Days of ’47.
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