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Feb 21st
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Home Things to Do Rodeos Ogden Pioneer Days Gears Up for World-Class Cowboy Action

Ogden Pioneer Days Gears Up for World-Class Cowboy Action

Utah Rodeo Celebrates 75th Anniversary, Commitment to the Future

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One of the great rodeo celebrations in the West is Ogden Pioneer Days and July 2009 the Ogden, Utah festival celebrates its 75th anniversary of bringing great cowboy competition to rodeo fans who come to see world-class roping, riding and wrangling.

While there's plenty of western music, food, parades, entertainment, a craft fair and a film festival for festival followers, the centerpiece is the rodeo, and the five-day competition takes place from July 20-24 at the Ogden Pioneer Stadium.

"We're pulling out all the stops to make sure there is something for everyone," said Desiree Cooper-Larsen, Ogden Pioneer Days committee chairwoman. "We will have world champions competing every night of the rodeo."

Established in 1934, Ogden Pioneer Days (www.ogdenpioneerdays.com)
celebrates three quarters of a century of western life, bringing meaning to the celebration's slogan, "A tradition...make it yours."

Nominated "The Best Rodeo in America" by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), Ogden Pioneer Days 75th Anniversary Celebration combines the excitement and heart-pounding action of professional rodeo with the beauty and historic scenery of Utah's Ogden valley.

Located about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, Ogden Pioneer Days is feeling a rebirth, but at one point there was real concern about the rodeo's future. The best years were maybe 30 years ago.

"Like anything that has a lot of history, you have peaks and valleys," Cooper-Larsen told OldWestNewWest.Com. "So six years ago, we started looking at the event, and what we were offering the public, and there wasn't the buzz from previous years."

Six years ago the board of trustees and committee members came up with a five-year plan to get the sizzle back into Ogden Pioneer Days.

"We brought in several stock contractors, and asked them, ‘what can you do to help us?'" she said.

When all the talking was done, Ogden Pioneer Days leaders brought in Stace Smith Pro Rodeos, based in Athens, Texas, to provide rough stock and deliver a show that fans wouldn't forget.

"Smith wanted to be with a group that wanted to take it to the next level, and we want to make ours one of the top-notch rodeos in the country," Cooper-Larsen said.

Stace Smith Pro Rodeos was named 2008 Stock Contractor of the Year by the PRCA, an honor the company has received every year since 2004.

Smith, owner of Smith Pro Rodeos, personally has participated in rodeo at every level, from contestant and chute boss to pickup man and stock contractor.

So, has the five-year plan been working?

"Oh yes," Cooper-Larsen said. "Last year's attendance was up 32 percent from the previous year. This year, stands will be full, but not sold out."

When this year's celebration is done, she said, the committee will get to work on a second five-year plan with the goal to get the Ogden Pioneer Days festival back to its glory days.

Cooper-Larsen comes from a Utah rodeo family, and she used to compete in high school rodeo and intercollegiate, then competed as a pro for a couple of years.

This is her 29th year with the Ogden Pioneer Days Celebration, working on volunteer basis. In 1979 she was named Ms. Rodeo Utah. She is also a member of the National Advisory Board for Mrs. Rodeo America. She is a college professor at Weber State University teaching technical sales, including sales presentation, customer service, and negotiations.

For Cooper-Larsen, 2009 is the second year of her two-year term as rodeo chairperson.

Will she miss her role?

"Well, it's bittersweet, but it will be nice to pass the reins to someone else," she said.

For details about Ogden Pioneer Days visit the Web site at www.ogdenpioneerdays.com

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