The Tradition of Ogden Pioneer Days

- posted by Regan Taylor

Utah’s founding is a story of 148 pioneers trekking over 1,000 miles across the country and finally arriving to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847. By 1869, some 70,000 or so more pioneers made this long, strenuous trip to our beautiful state of Utah.

In the summer of 1934, Mayor Harmon W. Peery started what’s known as “Ogden Pioneer Days”. This was how he wanted to celebrate and remember Utah’s pioneer ancestors and heritage.

The Ogden Pioneer Days has definitely been a tradition that has stuck; every year, the Ogden Pioneer Stadium puts on a rodeo and other special events, such as a parade and western festival, that attracts many people. Today, it’s known to be among the top 5 best large outdoor rodeos by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association (PRCA).

Jim Smith And The Ogden Pioneer Days

Jim Smith, son of Smith and Edwards Bert Smith, was President of Smith and Edwards since the 60’s, and an ardent supporter of the rodeo lifestyle. To understand Jim and Paula Smith’s total involvement with the Ogden Pioneer Days tradition, I talked with Jim’s close friend and Executive Administrator of Ogden Pioneer Days, Jackie Belnap.

Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Jackie recalled Jim becoming a part of the Ogden Pioneer Day’s Heritage Foundation Board some 10 or so years ago. But she says his active involvement really had been going on for somewhere between 35-45 years before. He was there to sponsor or support in ANY way he could.

Jackie said it was almost like every time the board thought to ask the Smith family for help, that they had already had it in their minds to help anyway. In other words, he didn’t have to be asked; Jim jumped in with both feet because of the passion he had for the Ogden Pioneer Days and community. And Paula was always right there with him, supporting in anyway she could too.

One moment that stood out to Jackie was when Ogden Pioneer Days had their volunteer appreciation party. Jackie had asked if Jim would be willing to give out a couple free gifts to some of these volunteers for their involvement and help with the Ogden Pioneer Days activities. Expecting just a couple free gifts, like they had agreed to, Jackie was stunned when she came to Smith and Edwards to pick them up. Jim had filled up an entire pick-up truck full of gifts for these volunteers who had taken time out of their day to help out. All 300 volunteers received a gift that night.

Of course, he did more than just support financially. Jim did all he could because he truly cared about all these people and what the Ogden Pioneer Days stands for. Jackie told me: “We would sometimes refer to him as our water boy. He was always making sure the cowboys had their cold water ready and that the coolers were always filled. There was literally no end to his support.”
Paula and Tenlee Smith

“Dad and Mom enjoy rodeo and the lifestyle. Dad competed in rodeo when he was younger and they raised all of us kids to love it too. Dad enjoyed his involvement with Ogden Pioneer Days. One of his main concerns was making sure the needs of the contestants were met. Mom has also helped out by volunteering in the contestant hospitality tent. She has always been everyone’s mom. This time of year the rodeo athletes spend a lot of time on the road. Its nice for them to feel like they have a place where they can refuel and recharge.

Dad always believed fully in giving back to the community and service. The Ogden Pioneer Heritage Foundation is one of the many boards he served on. He always felt like the store (Smith and Edwards) was blessed and that we are lucky to have the success that we do. It was his way of giving back. They are a great example of service before self.” -Misti Kosoff, daughter of Jim and Paula Smith

Jim Smith passed away in March, 2013.  But his presence and support for our community is still deeply rooted. After he passed, the Jim Smith Memorial Scholarship was created. This is a $1,000 scholarship for high school seniors involved with rodeo, 4-H or FFA. All around Ogden at special rodeo events or fairs, you’re more than likely going to see a Smith and Edwards sponsor sign.

There was no limit to how much support Jim and Paula had for our community. This year, Jim and Paula Smith are being honored as Grand Marshalls for the Ogden Pioneer Days 2015 celebration. To learn more click here.

Grand Marshalls of 2015 Horse n Hitch Parade

Paula and the Smith family ride as Grand Marshalls in the Horse N Hitch parade on Washington

If you’ve thought about going but have never lived the crazy fun of the Ogden Pioneer Days, I highly recommend you try it this year. The events have been going on for about a week or so,  but there’s still time to get in on all the action!

Events You Don’t Want To Miss

July 19th, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium at 8 a.m.:

  • Slack Breakfast and Timed Slack Event.

July 20th at Golden Spike Arena at 2 p.m.:

  • Miss Rodeo Utah Horsemanship Competition: Come out and support your favorite rodeo gal!

July 20th, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium at 6:30:

  • Pre-Rodeo and PRCA Rodeo: “Standard Examiner Family Night”.

July 21st, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium at 6:30:

  • Pre-Rodeo and PRCA Rodeo: “Patriot Night”.

July 22nd, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium at 6:30:

  • Pre-Rodeo and PRCA Rodeo: “National Day of American Cowboy” theme.

July 23rd, at Ogden Pioneer Stadium at 6:30:

  • Pre-Rodeo and PRCA Rodeo: “Tough enough to wear pink” night. Come at 6 p.m. to check out the Miss Rodeo Utah Freestyle Horsemanship Competition.

July 24th, THE BIG DAY!!

  • 9 a.m. on Washington Boulevard: Kick off the 24th of July with a Parade down the streets of Ogden. 20th street to 30th street.
  • 6 p.m.: Pre-Rodeo
  • 7:30 p.m.: PRCA Rodeo
  • 8:30 p.m.: Coronation of 2015 Miss Rodeo Utah
  • After the Miss Rodeo Utah is crowned, don’t forget to stay and watch the display of fireworks.

Pre-Rodeo Events Include:

  • Mutton Bustin’
  • Junior Posse Jamboree
  • Wild Cow Milking
  • Musical Chairs
  • Hide Racing

To get more details on registration and each event, visit the Ogden Pioneer Days website by clicking here.

We’re a stop on the Charm Trail, get your Smith & Edwards star charm at our Western department counter!

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Smith & Edwards Wrangler Rebates for Ogden Pioneer Days