OGDEN — The annual Ogden Pioneer Days celebration has been canceled, the latest in a string of large community events impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Pioneer Days Chairman Alan Hall said the decision was made, first and foremost, to ensure the safety of all individuals who would have been involved in the event. Hall said Pioneer Days typically attracts about 150,000 total spectators over the two week celebration. And that number doesn’t include participants in the show or the staff members that help carry it out.
“You could imagine how many people could be impacted (by the virus),” Hall said. “We just didn’t think it would be responsible to do it this year.”
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city provides many resources for the event and had been meeting with Pioneer Days officials regularly for the past several weeks to determine the best course forward. Like Hall, the mayor said the decision came down to safety. Caldwell said the groups had lengthy discussions with state and local health department officials to acquire as much information as possible.
“It came down to safety, but we also didn’t want to have a rodeo that was a shell of what it usually was,” Caldwell said. “It wouldn’t be the same if you had an empty stadium for the rodeo and things like that.”
Hall said that prospect, and the financial implications that come with it, also played into the decision.
“We really couldn’t afford to run at a deficit,” he said, referring the the possibility of diminished revenue from smaller crowds. “We would have lost our shirts.”
Since 1934, the Ogden Pioneer Days Celebration and Rodeo have been held to commemorate Utah’s statehood and to honor the pioneer people who helped establish the communities of the intermountain West.
According to an Ogden City press release, all events associated with the celebration are canceled. This year, the celebration was to begin on July 11 with a Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame induction ceremony and culminate with the Pioneer Days Parade on July 24. The parade has long been one of Weber County’s most popular Pioneer Days traditions and regularly draws up to 40,000 spectators, according to the Pioneer Days website.
The celebration’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo has been nationally recognized as one of the Top 5 PRCA rodeos in the nation. In 2017, the rodeo was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Each year, more than 30,000 spectators attend the rodeo, which is held at Ogden’s Pioneer Stadium.
Ogden Pioneer Days is the latest large, regularly held community event to be impacted by the ongoing pandemic. The biennial Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show, which regularly draws crowds of 500,000 at Hill Air Force Base, was axed in April. The Ogden Twilight concert series was canceled in May and the Ogden Marathon, normally held in May, has been postponed until September.