By Alisa Boswell
It’s a job, a culture, a history. It’s rodeo.
During the kickoff event for Pioneer Days on Friday morning at the Clovis Civic Center, it was made clear that rodeo is a big part of the Southwest culture and the region’s heritage.
Isabella Reyes was no less than idolizing the numerous rodeo queens at the event as she hugged them, took photos with them and asked for autographs, pouting when she was told it was time to say goodbye.
“I like them; they’re cool,” she said, clinging to the leg of Miss Rodeo New Mexico, Alexandria Tapia.
Reyes has participated in the Little Buckaroo Rodeo in previous years and earned third place in the first Buckaroo rodeo pageant last year. She said she wants to continue with rodeo so she can be a queen one day too.
But rodeo queens were only some of the women honored and recognized at the Pioneer Days breakfast Friday.
Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce President Holly Stockstill said there are many long-time residents of Clovis who are highly devoted to their community and its heritage, such as Gloria Whicker, a pioneer who worked at BNSF Railway and is a huge supporter of Clovis and its events; and Barbara Voges, a pioneer who was a nurse for Clovis schools for many years.
Stockstill said she is proud to be part of a pioneer family of Clovis with her family owning a 60-year-old business, Glenco, which is third-generation owned.
“I think it’s important to honor the heritage of Clovis and the fabulous women who have lived here a long time and are proud to be from Clovis,” said chamber Executive Director Ernie Kos.
Kos said despite its success, the morning’s event had a hole in it with the absence of one of Pioneer Days’ greatest advocates, Wilma Fulgham. Kos said Fulgham has been part of Pioneer Days since it started 44 years ago and was the original Curry County rodeo queen. “She is always ever-present during our Pioneer Days celebration,” Kos said. “It’s a bittersweet
Pioneer Days because she’s the face of some of these events and coordinates so much of it.” Fulgham was absent due to illness in her family. Other honored guests at Pioneer Days events are members and descendants of the Japanese colony that existed south of the Clovis railroad in the early 1900s.
First Baptist Church will host an event Sunday geared towards “cultural reconciliation” as a means to apologize to the immigrants who were shunned after the World War II bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.