(Source: Debra Muller)
Sculptor Keith McMasters, above, will have pieces featured in this year’s Traces of the West art gallery. (Source: Debra Muller)

Pioneer Day is a great time for Utah residents to celebrate Utah’s statehood with activities commemorating past pioneers and settlers, while celebrating rich, local culture.

The Ogden Pioneer Days started in the summer of 1934 and will be held July 20-24. According to Ogden Pioneer Days’ website, this western festival was started by mayor Harman W. Peery, who wanted to bring tourism to Ogden and boost the spirits of the locals.

In the past, Pioneers Days has focused on the rodeo and associated events. Some of those events, including several side rodeos, the rodeo queen pageant and a hoedown, have survived while some of the more interesting events like a beard growing competition have faded. Some of the contemporary events of the festival include concerts and parades.

Another event during Pioneer Days is the Traces of the West art exhibit. The gallery will be open from July 10-31 with a reception on July 10 sponsored by the Ogden Pioneer Days and The Eccles Community Art Center’s Main Gallery. This exhibit is part of the First Friday Art Stroll event and will feature western-themed art at the Eccles Community Art Center located at 2580 Jefferson Avenue in Ogden.

(Source: Debra Muller)
Casey Horg, artist of the above horse bit, will have art in Traces of the West art competition. (Source: Debra Muller)

“The exhibit will include the best of everything western,” Steve Johnson, Intermountain curator and artist, said. “Categories include drawing, painting, sculpture and gear.” The exhibit will also include high-end and handcrafted horse tack, like saddles, chaps and spurs.

Most of the category winners and awards will be announced at a reception held for the artists and the public on July 10 from 5-8 p.m. as part of the Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Hall of Fame inductions at the Union Station. The final award, Judges Choice, will be announced during the rodeo on July 24.

According to the press release, Traces of the West draws artists primarily from the Intermountain West, including artists from Arizona, Montana and even California. Among the popular artists who have accepted invitations to this year’s exhibit are Casey Horg, Keith McMasters and Jean Hildebrant.

According to Standard Examiner reporter Amy Nicholson in her article about last year’s event, the exhibit hosted more than 34 artists from nine states with over 100 pieces. Over $16,ooo in cash prizes were given to the category winners at last year’s exhibit, according to Nicholson.

“I decide to paint something when I find a subject that interests me,” said Doug Stephens, Ogden City council member and former winner of the Traces of the West competition, in Nicholson’s article. “With each painting, I decide what technique I’m going to learn and how it will improve my skills.” 

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