PAWNEE — With the 4th of July and Homecoming celebrations in the rearview mirror, the attention of the Pawnee community now turns to the fast approaching 28th annual Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo, set for August 8, 9 and 10 at Lakeside Arena in Pawnee.

According to Rodeo Chairperson Ronnie Jestes the activities of Western Heritage Week preceding the rodeo, and of the rodeo itself, will feature a few changes as well as an emphasis on what has made the rodeo one of the most successful of the International Professional Rodeo Association’s (IPRA) more than 120 North American sanctioned events.

"The biggest change is in how we are going to do the trail ride and wagon train. We’re calling this year’s version a Reunion and we’re asking that anyone who has participated in this event over the past 15 years to return to Pawnee, with no charge, for a few days of fun, food and fellowship in a relaxed atmosphere at the rodeo arena," said Jestes.

No formal trail rides are planned, but an evening of food and entertainment is scheduled for Sunday, August 4 at the rodeo pavilion.

"Our trail ride has always had a family feel to it and we hope that everyone will see this Reunion in just that way; a chance for family to get together and enjoy each other," said Jestes.

The rodeo is produced by the Hampton Rodeo Company, Springdale, Arkansas, recently named Stock Contractor of the Year for the 15th consecutive year by the IPRA. Returning to announce the rodeo is Danny Newland, selected again this past year to announce the International Finals.

A new addition to the rodeo lineup is Jason Farley, Evening Shade, Arkansas, who will be the clown and contract act. Farley was recently selected as Comedy/Dress Act of the Year by the IPRA. His act can be seen on YouTube videos.

In addition to the seven sanctioned IPRA events, cowgirls breakaway roping returns to the rodeo for the third year, with an increase in added money from $1200 to $1500. This event is scheduled for Saturday morning, August 10 at Lakeside Arena.

Four locally organized events, ranch bronc riding, wild horse race, wild cow milking and the ring of fear, are also included in the program nightly.

Lauren Terry, Moulton, Alabama, crowned the 50th Miss Rodeo USA at the International Finals in Oklahoma City last January, is scheduled to appear each night of the rodeo in addition to assisting with the Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo Queen Pageant.

Tickets to the rodeo are $10 at the gate for adults, $8 in advance per night. A three day pass is available for $25. Children ages 6 – 12 are admitted for $5. Children 5 and under are admitted free.