COWDEN – A rodeo, food, live music, queen pageant and a not-so-beauty pageant are just a few of the activities scheduled for this year’s 2019 Cowden Pioneer Days Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-25, at Cowden Village Park.

A baby pageant is planned for 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, followed by Junior Miss and Miss Pioneer Days pageant, starting at 6 p.m. on the main stage.

According to Pageant Director Jennifer Endsley, the pageant features candidates from Shelby County and a 25-mile radius of Cowden.

“We usually have anywhere from three to seven contestants in each category,” Endsley said. “Our Junior Miss contestants are entering sixth through eighth grade and Miss girls are entering the ninth grade through 12th or a 2019 graduate.”

Endsley said the Miss and Junior Miss contestants will be competing on stage in evening gowns and Western wear. Each contestant will be asked a question, judged on how many raffle tickets they sell and asked to submit their most recent school grades as part of their final score.

“I can tell you that we endeavor to make it a learning experience for the girls,” Endsley said.

Pioneer Committee member Barbara Sarver said everyone working at the event, with the exception of vendors, are volunteers.

“And we could always use more,” Sarver said. “We have a committee and when we get going we need volunteers to help.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer should contact either Sarver or any of the committee members.

New this year is the Tot-Rod Pedal Pulls on Sunday, Aug. 25, at 2 p.m. underneath the main stage. Children ages 3-12 are eligible to compete.

This year’s Cowden Pioneer Days features a raffle with over 50 prizes. Top prize is a John Boos “Jasmine” Maple butcher block island. Second is four admission tickets to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Third is two admission tickets to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. Fourth prize is two admission tickets to Six Flags, St. Louis, and fifth is two Chicago White Sox tickets.

“We have all kinds of prizes,” Sarver said about this year’s raffle.

One of the favorite events of the weekend is the Not-So-Beauty Contest, starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday. A talent contest is scheduled for later that day at 5:30 p.m.

A carnival is featured this year all three days: Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday noon-8 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Cost per ride is $2 and arm bands are available for purchase for $15 per person.

The Wooten Rodeo is taking place in the Joe Thompson Arena on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 7:30. General admission for the rodeo is $15 for adults, $8 for children 6-12 and children 5 and younger are free.

Live music is featured all weekend with local favorite Art Ford and Country Plus, starting at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon followed by The Surviving Members at 8 p.m.

On Saturday morning and afternoon. Aug. 24, Don Bettis takes the stage at 11:30 a.m., Greenville Grand Squares square dancers at 1 p.m. and Steve Seaton and the Misdemeanor Band starts at 3:30 p.m.

Saturday night country music artist Missy Dunaway performs at 7:15 p.m. followed by Tim Atwood at 8 p.m. Local Christian music is featured on Sunday, starting at 11:30 a.m.

The historic Pioneer Village is open all three days of the event, Friday, Aug. 23, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 24, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 25, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Runners and walkers can participate in the Jim Ed Memorial 5K walk/run race Saturday, Aug. 24, at 7:30 a.m. Cost is $25 per entry. The race starts and finishes at Cowden Village Park and participants can sign up online at

A big Cowden Pioneer Days Parade is planned for downtown on Saturday, Aug. 24, starting at 10 a.m.

On Sunday afternoon, there are mud drags on the west parking lot starting at 1 p.m. The cost for general admission is $10 for adults and children 6-12, $5. Children 5 and younger are free. Pit pass per vehicle is $5.

This year’s food vendors include a fish fry on Friday, Pauly’s BBQ on Saturday and a fried chicken dinner on Sunday.

Parking fee for the event is a donation. For more information and updates on Cowden Pioneer Days 2019 visit their Facebook page:

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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