Cowley Pioneer Day celebration is here

David Peck

Two down, one to go. The third of North Big Horn County’s summer festivals will take place in Cowley this Friday and Saturday, July 22-23.

Cowley Pioneer Day 2022 will be celebrated with the theme Faith, Freedom, Family – Our Legacy.

According to Pioneer Day Chairman Ray Peterson, the celebration begins Friday evening with horseshoes in the park at 6:30 p.m. The horseshoe throwing is for pitchers of all skill levels and is being held for fun, not a competition. There is no entry fee.

“Just show up,” Peterson said.

Later that evening, a street dance and kickoff gathering will be held at the park with Division Street closed to vehicle traffic from Main to North Second Street. Titled Family Music in the Street, the event begins at 8 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m., featuring the Cowley Boys.

Saturday schedule

The official Pioneer Day schedule begins Saturday with the fun run at 7 a.m. featuring both a 5K and a mile run. There is a $10 entry fee, with registration beginning at 6:30 a.m. T-shirts will be given to the first 40 runners to register. The race begins and ends on Main Street in front of the church.

Call Jodi Winland for more information at 801-499-9365.

Parades are up next, with the kiddie parade starting things at 9:30 a.m. Participants will line up at town hall at 9:15 a.m. No motorized vehicles will be allowed.

The main Pioneer Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. with lineup at 9 a.m. at the city and county shop buildings on the west edge of town. To enter, call Janeen Blackburn at 307-548-6186.

The annual Pioneer Heritage Program follows the parade at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with word and music honoring the pioneers. The Cowley Second Ward has the program this year, Peterson said.

In the same vein, a self-guided historic home tour will be offered throughout the day. Pick up a brochure and map at town hall.

The popular Fun in the Park event begins after the parade featuring food vendors until 5 p.m., craft vendors until 4 p.m. and kids races in the park for ages 3 and up. Inflatables will open at 12:30 p.m. and be offered until 5 p.m.

Interested food vendors may call Mitch Kinser to make arrangements at 909-553-4607.  Craft vendors may call Sally Bernhisel at 307-272-5251.

The annual Pioneer Day volleyball tournament begins at noon. The registration fee is $60 per team, and teams may be entered by calling Calli Leonhardt at 307-250-2277.

A cornhole tournament follows at 2 p.m. in the park. The entry fee is $20 per team. To enter, call Lacey Bassett at 307-899-4958.

Also at 2 p.m. is the Pioneer Day Rodeo. The Calcutta will be held Friday at the Bull Pub at 8 p.m.

There is no car show, trap shoot or golf tournament this year, Peterson said.

Saturday evening will bring the annual variety show at the Cowley Log Gym at 7 p.m. Call Peterson to enter at 272-9705.

An ice cream social will follow the variety show at 8:30 p.m. at the Cowley Legion Baseball Field. Fireworks will begin at dusk at the baseball field, choreographed by Caleb and Joshua Sanders.

Joe and Pat Davis Cowley Pioneer Day grand marshals

Editor’s note: The following is reprinted from the Cowley Pioneer Day Book, courtesy of the Pioneer Day Committee.

Joe and Pat Davis met at the University of Utah, married in 1968 and finished their degrees in education. Pat taught at West High School in Salt Lake City for two years while Joe finished his degree. Then they moved to Monticello, Utah, where they lived for 19 years
while Pat taught English and Joe taught health and P.E. and coached.

Joe earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Cal State Hayward, and in 1992 the family moved to Cowley, where Joe worked as the principal at Rocky Mountain High School in Byron and Pat taught English. Their children, Jordan and Becky, attended Rocky
Mountain Middle School/High School and then moved on to Northwest College before graduating from MSU and UW. 

Even though leaving Monticello was hard after 19 years of great friends and colleagues, Pat and Joe quickly found Cowley most welcoming and literally a great place to live. They had friends instantly, and they knew right away that this school district was awesome with excellent staff at the schools and great leadership at the district office.

It was not hard to fall in love with Cowley and the people in it. Home is definitely where the heart is, and Cowley has been in the Davis’ hearts for 30 years. After retiring from education in Wyoming, Joe and Pat pursued an adventure as educators working with Native Americans in Point Hope, Alaska, for a year and in Harlem, Montana, for three years. All the while, home was still Cowley, and they maintained their house here with the help of neighbors and friends. Working in education is still an essential part of life for Joe and Pat, so Joe still coaches and they both still substitute teach in our local school districts. It’s crazy that now they teach the children and even grandchildren of the kids they taught decades ago.

There are so many things Pat and Joe love about living in Cowley: it is a beautiful community with wonderful people, and it has amenities not found in most small towns like a new middle school/high school and elementary school, a baseball field, a swimming pool, a splash park, a gorgeous Main Street, churches, stores and a restaurant    and Pat’s favorite, a cool water tower.

Joe and Pat are fortunate enough to own a little corner of Cowley heaven surrounded by great neighbors where
they can enjoy their
favorite pastime: working in their yard.

Note: Cowley native James McMillin is this year’s Pioneer Day Citizen Emeritus. For an article about James, please see the Cowley Pioneer Day Book.