Pioneer Days Parade kicks off rodeo weekend

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 108 views 

Hundreds gathered along Main Street in Van Buren on Saturday (May 25) to celebrate the start of rodeo season in the River Valley with the annual Pioneer Days Parade.

Featuring hundreds of local riders, the parade showcased the area’s long-standing rodeo tradition and kicked off the start of the weekend Old Fort Days festivities.

Beginning at the historic Crawford County Courthouse, riders made their way up Main Street waving to the crowd. Many children anxiously awaited on the sidewalk for the chance to catch candy as it was thrown their way. Shop owners also took to the street, standing outside their doors in support of the parade.

Local law enforcement, including the Van Buren Police Department and Arkansas State Police led off in the parade by sounding their lights and sirens. They were followed by members of the Crawford and Sebastian County Sheriff’s Offices, which included officers from each counties’ mounted patrol divisions.

Serving as the official Grand Marshal of this year’s event was former Crawford County Sheriff Bob Ross. Ross served as the county sheriff from 1996-2005.

The parade also included the Miss Rodeo Old Fort Days Royalty, as well as the most famous rodeo darlings, the Old Fort Days Dandies. The Dandies precision riding team is made up of high school age young ladies from the area. Team members demonstrate their superior riding skills each year during the rodeo for the crowd.

Several local riding clubs rode in the parade marching their horses and waving their club flags in support of the event. More than a dozen local pageant winners, such as Miss Teen Crawford County and Miss Cedarville also took part in the event.

Old Fort committee members and sponsors were also honored, with flags for each event sponsor being carried by participants on horseback.

The annual parade is held each year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in downtown Van Buren. This year, it signifies the start of the 80th annual Old Fort Days Rodeo.

The rodeo will get underway on Monday (May 27) with the official Grand Entry Ceremony at Kay Rodgers Park. The rodeo will run through June 1.