Let’s see where we left off… Yes, we’d had breakfast at Stillman Park, then watched the grand round up parade and now we were on our way to the actual rodeo.
The Pendleton Roundup is a massive undertaking, and it is incredible to imagine it is entirely run by volunteers (they only need 1200 of them). This was Friday, which was my first day, and the third full day of the rodeo. A slight tangent:
Monday and Tuesday are a separate bull riding event held in the Happy Canyon grounds (more on this later). Then the Roundup gets under way from Wed through Saturday at the large Roundup grounds. Then Sunday rolls around, and by 11am, the town is empty and quiet.
Walking to the Roundup on both days, we took the river walk. There is a levee on the Umatilla river to ensure the town does not flood, and they put a six mile paved trail on it. Very serene.
Once heading under the main highway into the city, and then ascending on the other side, the only way I can describe what met my eyes briefly would be to say that there were so many people (cowboys, Native Indians, made up women, cowgirls) and booths and teepees, that my senses were overwhelmed! There were booths selling food from various countries, Indian crafts, jewelry, saddles and leather products, Western wear plus more. Then there was an extensive Indian village set up next to the rodeo grounds with about a hundred teepees. Many Indians from near and far reservations come to participate in living, dancing and competing for the best dressed. The place was packed!
We went through the Indian village and then into the back gates, so there was neither a line nor crowds. We purposely arrived early to scope out the food offerings. I had no idea what to expect, but there were dozens of options from pizza to Mexican and German food, plus the typical fries and burgers. Unfortunately, I never tried the fried bread, which my Dad described as similar to malasadas in Hawaii (almost like donut holes), but there were several booths just specializing in fried bread. We had delightful seats, sitting in a “box” which simply meant that we were closer to the rodeo ring, without being up against the barrier fences.
The rodeo started with a bang as riders showed expert horsemanship in racing out with flags – US, Canada, Oregon and another. Then we stood for the national anthem, which was emphasized by cannon fire. On Friday we watched bronco bareback riding, saddleback riding, bull riding, calf roping and Indian (bareback) racing. We had to leave early and we missed the barrel racing and the wild cow milking. It was a lot of fun for me, and my previous concern about seeing cruelty to animals was not a problem.
I am wrapping this up quickly as I know I have less time now that I’m back to work. However, it would certainly be worth attending a major rodeo simply to see the Indian races (it was bizarre and would take many words to describe) or the wild cow milking (equally if not more bizarre and very chaotic and entertaining) or barrel racing (in which cowgirls are the ones competing).
I would like to say more. Let me know if you want to hear more about Pendleton or its grandiose Roundup.