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Travis Whiteside rides Copen Heckle in 1998 Pendleton Round-Up
Travis Whiteside of Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada, rides Copen Heckle in the 1998 Pendleton Round-Up Photo: Don Cresswell, East Oregonian

Pendleton Round-Up

In the fall of 1910, a group of ranchers and cowboys decided to celebrate the harvest and show off their skills. All the town's stores closed, and the largest crowd in Pendleton's history then showed up to enjoy the first Pendleton "Round-Up," a rip-roaring Western rodeo. The Round-Up has since become a week-long celebration of the cowboy way of life. Fueled by the unbridled energy of hundreds of volunteers, the Round-Up is a true case of how community pride and spirit can be funneled into an outstanding international event.

Entrenched in the second full week of September, the Pendleton Round-Up attracts crowds of more than 50,000, causing the city to nearly triple in size. Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA), the rodeo offers itself as a traditional test of skills for the world's best cowboy athletes, who participate in saddle bronc riding, bull dogging, steer roping, calf roping, team roping, bull riding, and bareback riding. In 1997, the Pendleton Round-Up was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

What makes the rodeo unique is its special entertainment which accompanies each afternoon's performance-relay races for Indians and non-Indians performers, wild cow milking, clown and specialty acts, stage coach races, tribal dancing, and the wild horse race. About 200 non-Indian and 300 Indian performers participate in a historical night pageant, Happy Canyon, which traces development of the West, including the arrival of Lewis and Clark, miners, and the battles between white settlers and Native Americans. Some roles in the pageant, which began in 1914, have been handed down from one generation to the next.

During the Round-Up, Indians from the region and the Southwest meet in Roy Roely Park and display and sell their crafts, which include quality quill and beadwork, baskets, dolls, silver jewelry, woven rugs, sand painting, and clay pottery. They also participate in the Pow Wow Dance competition on Saturday evening. No motorized vehicles are allowed in Pendleton's "history rich" parade, Westward Ho, which features mules, oxen-drawn covered wagons, Mormon carts, buggies, surreys, riding groups, marching bands, and Indians dressed in their tribal regalia.

Documentation includes 1999 official and souvenir programs, 26 photos, a brochure and video.

Originally submitted by: Gordon Smith, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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