As is tradition, the 81st Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo kicked off Monday with a big Clay County “thank you” to the volunteers that make each year a success.
Wilson Scaling filled in as master of ceremonies in place of Joe Davidson of Byers. Scaling opened the event with a moment of silence for Donna Davidson, the wife of Joe Davidson and a longtime Pioneer Reunion volunteer, and for Nine Man Board member Mike Skinner of Jolly, who died in June.
Leonard Phillips, chairman of the Nine Man Board, thanked the Henrietta and Clay County Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the Pioneer Reunion Kickoff Luncheon. Phillips named members of the Nine Man Board, the board secretary and assistants. See related story here.
Phillips also thanked all volunteers.
After all volunteers were named, reigning Pioneer Reunion Junior Queen Kalico Burkes and reigning Rodeo Queen Kyla Rater addressed the crowd.
Kalico wowed the crowd with tales about her time as junior queen, including area rodeos and parades. In November, she represented the Pioneer Reunion Rodeo at the American Quarter Horse World Show in Oklahoma City, where people from all over the world would ask, “Where is Clay County?”
“I told them we were working on the border patrol in North Texas on the Oklahoma state line.” said Kalico.
Burkes and Rater thanked the crowd for their support, as well as their families and sponsors. Huskey Hat Company of Wichita Falls sponsored both.
Nat Fleming, who served as rodeo announcer for more than 40 years, and ends each kickoff luncheon with a laugh, offered a bit of wisdom for the volunteers.
“You know those trinkets, the little things you go to town and buy? But the ‘thank yous’ you’ve received, and heard today, those, my friends, are souvenirs,” said Fleming. “Most of you that got them here today got them last year. You know, that’s kind of funny. The same people that were thanked this year are the same people that will be thanked next year.”
He continued, “Now we’ve all got somewhere to go. Let’s go do it, what do you think?
Volunteers recognized are as follows:
Welcome Committee: Jim and Cheryl Klein, Josh and Jana Beth Johnson, and Mary Sue Klein.
Pioneer Registration: Chairperson Diane Wines.
Queen and Duchess Committee: Carla Sue Pullen, Linda Bevering, Judy Davidson, Marcia Miller, Kandace Phillips, Jerri Skelton and the late Donna Davidson.
Queen and Duchess Reception: Chairperson Kellye Jerosz.
Queen’s Float: Doyle Davis, George Davis, Don Davis, Michael Russell and J.R. Lavy.
Publicity: Matt Kelton of the Clay County Pioneer Sentinel, Mike Chacanaca of the Clay County Leader.
Empty Saddles: Kay Hutchison.
Art Show: Clay County Art Association – C.H. Dowdy, Lawanda Jackson and Linda Zachry.
Pioneer Awards: Merle Nelms, Diane Wines and Judy Davidson.
Frog and Terrapin Races: Pam Roberson.
Praise and Worship Service: Howard Walker, Brandon Dunn and B.J. Dunn.
Museum Tours: Chairperson Liz Kesler and members of the Clay County Historical Society.
Parade: Marshal Billy Carlton with assistants Sheila Carlton, Susan Vicars, Dustin Carlton, David Sizemore, Wendy Sizemore and Nancy McClain.
Parade Announcers: Rayford Pullen and Mike Campbell with assistants Cinda Seabourn, Vicki Hodges, Marsha Shoemaker and Dorothy Kucharski.
Parade Theme Committee: Chairperson June Griffin, Chris Scheer, Carla Sue Pullen, Jennifer Scott, Barbara Mayo, and the late Donna Davidson.
Float Committee: Chairperson K.J. Davidson.
Parade entries: Sherri Halsell and Jerri Skelton.
Parade Car Provider: Robert Forrester and Four Stars Auto Ranch.
Classic Cars: Mark Echols and the Echols family.
Arena Announcer: Eddy Atkins.
Rodeo Concessions: The Henrietta Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, led by Joe Bill Brock, and the Petrolia Band Boosters.
Rodeo Ticket Sales: Chairman Roger Towery, with help from Jim Humphrey, Lee Humphrey and Larry Crowley.
Grand Entry Pivots: The Clay County Volunteers, led by Sonny Seward and Benton Easter.
Dummy Roping Contest: Lee Moss and Lori Moss.
Youth Play Day: Frank Blanscet and Sandra Blanscet.
FFA Calf Scramble: Carroll Vicars.
Rodeo Dance Ticket Sales: Marvin Bigbie.
Rodeo Queen Contest: Carla Sue Pullen, Deanna Roberts, Stephanie Clayton, Kellye Jerosz and employees of the First National Bank of Byers, Henrietta Branch.
Door prizes awarded during the kickoff lunch were provided by Amy Ellis, independent consultant for Scentsy Candles, Leal’s Mexican Restaurant, The Pecan Shed, Pierce Outlet, Stewart Title, Waggoner’s Boot Center and the chamber of commerce.