A Simple Computation

Guymon, the Queen City of the Panhandle, celebrates its cowboy roots and Hispanic culture. It just makes sense.

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It could be an interesting equation: G = P³ – with Guymon as a product of its past and present in the Panhandle.

Spain and Mexico once possessed the land where the city sits, so vaqueros, then buckaroos (derived from that word), have worked on horseback and driven cattle there for centuries.

Children get ready to perform in Guymon’s Fiesta. Photo by Arlene Winfrey

FUN FACTS

Population 11,703

Getting Higher
With an elevation of 3,126 feet, Guymon is located at a higher elevation than Oklahoma towns to its east. But the slant toward the Rocky Mountains takes you steadily higher as you go west.

High on the Hog
Seaboard Foods slaughters and processes 20,500 hogs daily in Guymon. Also in the city, Seaboard owns High Plains Bioenergy, which produces biodiesel from pork fat, recovers biogas from wastewater systems and has a transportation fleet running on compressed natural gas.

Drive-In Theater
The Corral Drive-In is one of eight such theaters in Oklahoma. Owners Eric and Alka Lammes also have a pizzeria and RV park on the grounds.

Royal Title
The Queen City of the Panhandle is the largest burg in an area given various official names from 1850 to 1907: No Man’s Land, Unassigned Lands, Cimarron Territory and Beaver County.

Panhandle Counties
Once it joined Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory to create the 46th state, the Panhandle was split into three, nearly identical rectangular counties – Cimarron on the west, Texas in the middle and Beaver on the east. Guymon is the seat of Texas County.

Guymon embraces cowboy culture; simultaneously, demographic changes mean that the city honors Hispanic heritage, too. The melding is seen in two celebrations dominating Guymon’s calendar: this month’s Fiesta and May’s Pioneer Days Rodeo.

In rodeo circles, Guymon, the Saddle Bronc Capital of the World, is known for the Etbauer brothers and the Panhandle State University rodeo team in nearby Goodwell. Plus, the Pioneer Days Rodeo is the world’s fifth-largest outdoor rodeo in terms of prize money, so people from across the country come to that event.

Danny, Billy and Robert Etbauer, among the best riders in saddle bronc history, don’t brag about their accomplishments but quickly credit others for their success.

“A lot of Guymon being known for saddle bronc has to do with kids that [Richard] ‘Doc’ Gardner and others recruited,” says Robert Etbauer, Gardner’s successor at Panhandle State, winner of the past two men’s national championships.

Dancers participate in the 2017 Fiesta in Guymon.

Etbauer, a world champion saddle bronc rider, also cites historic occupations.

“It’s cowboy country for sure,” he says. “Lots of people work in feedlots or as rangers or use cutting horses. Part of being a good bronc rider is being good on horseback.”

He says successful saddle bronc riders take that skill, then “work on technique and fitness. There’s a lot that goes into it, especially sheer determination and drive.”

In historic terms, Guymon has long had Spanish speakers. That number increased dramatically in the 1990s, when Seaboard Foods opened a pork-processing plant that attracted many immigrants and their descendants from Mexico and Central America.

A cultural outcome is the annual Fiesta, which has its 22nd run from 3 to 8 p.m. Sept. 16 at Fifth and Main streets. Event coordinator Soila Medina says Guymon, as a Main Street Oklahoma town, has set an example for other cities.

Visitors to the Fiesta in Guymon observe street dances. Photo by Arlene Winfrey

“Food is the No. 1 attraction because everyone looks forward to it,” she says. “Businesses also reach out to the Hispanic community and groups have a place to show everyone what they do.

“It’s a complete event – dances, kids activities, performances. There’s something for everyone.”

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