Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo


See the best photos from the Ogden Rodeo

July 26, 2018

For five nights in July, ropers and riders from around the world descended on Ogden and thousands of fans showed up for the 85th annual Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo. Photojournalists from the Standard-Examiner were on hand to capture all of the sights and stories. These are some of the highlights from the week.

News & Events

Rodeo on Film: Photographing Ogden’s Pioneer Day Rodeo the old-fashioned way

July 28, 2017

Every summer in Ogden, I spend multiple nights photographing the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo. Each rodeo is a hectic and dramatic evening in a beautiful location, often with wonderful light.

The whole thing is a photographer’s dream.

Still, the rodeo can be technically complex to keep up with as a photographer, and I usually go into the evening with three cameras and four lenses around my shoulders. Over the last dozen or so rodeos, I’ve also developed a routine of shooting from the same locations with the same lenses at the same time of night.

This year I wanted to change things up. After several nights of my usual rodeo coverage, I went out Monday night with the most basic camera setup I own. I took the old manual SLR film camera I learned to shoot with in high school (a Nikon FM10), along with a basic 35-70mm lens and two 24-frame roles of 400 ISO film.

This is what I found.

News & Events

Standing tall and riding high

July 23, 2017

In the moments between the saddle bronc competition and the barrel racing, Jessica Blair Fowlkes has the grounds of the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo all to herself.
Five feet above the ground, the trick rider from Kentucky enters the arena standing tall with one foot on the back of each of her matching pale horses.
For several minutes, Blair Fowlkes races around the edges of the arena and weaves around obstacles before leaping with her horses over a wall of flames and riding off into the night.
Every year, the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo features a specialty act who rides in between the traditional rodeo events. This year is Blair Fowlkes’s first time performing her Roman riding in Utah. Roman riding is a form of trick riding where the performer stands atop multiple horses.
Growing up on a beef cattle farm in Eastern Tennessee, Blair Fowlkes always rode horses, but it wasn’t until college that she picked up trick riding.
While earning degrees in animal science and nursing, Blair Fowlkes was also working at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, a country western themed tourist attraction. There she learned how to become a professional trick rider.
“I always told her she was crazy,” said her mother, Michele Blair.
A decade after starting at the Dixie Stampede, Blair Fowlkes now spends around 40 weeks a year on the road performing as a rodeo specialty act. By her side for nearly all of those trips are her mother and her 13-month-old son Wilder. When Blair Fowlkes had her son last year, it was less than three months before she was back on the road again.
This week, her husband has had time off from his own rodeo business and has joined her in Ogden.
Often these trips are relatively short weekend turns at rodeos around the Southeast, but the rodeo business is changing. In recent years, Blair Fowlkes says she has seen a decline in the number of rodeos hiring specialty acts. This is especially true in the South where the trend is moving towards shortening rodeos and featuring large concerts at the end.
Despite the changes, Blair Fowlkes remains on the road and on her horses. After five nights of riding in Ogden, she’ll pack up her trailer and family and head to Montana where two more rodeos are waiting before making the trip back to Kentucky.