The Pendleton Round-Up is celebrating its centennial this year. But even at 100, it’s far from the oldest rodeo in the nation. And it doesn’t even begin to be the longest or the biggest. But you’ll be hard pressed to find another rodeo that’s as beloved by whole community that puts it on. As one resident told us, there are two seasons in Pendleton: Before Round-Up and After Round-Up.
Generations have grown up in and around Pendleton volunteering their time preparing for and putting on the rodeo and all the attendant events. It’s one of the reasons the rodeo itself has remained largely commercial free — a point of pride for organizers and almost unheard of in the modern rodeo world. Cowboys from all over the country converge on Pendleton for one of the last rodeos of the season. From the professional rodeo events like Tie-Down Roping (calf roping) and Saddle Bronc Riding to the Native American events like the Happy Canyon Pageant to local institutions like the Main Street Cowboys, the city of Pendleton is fairly bursting at the seams with traditions and activities of all sorts.
While you’re online, click over to OPB TV’s Oregon Experience documentary on the Round-Up: The Wild West Way. Tell us your own memories from the Round-Up, or post your comments and questions below. You can also check out two stories from Oregon Art Beat about a well-known saddle-making family and stories from Oregon Field Guide about rodeo clowns and rodeo livestock.
Have you been to the Round-Up or a rodeo elsewhere? What stands out to you about the Pendleton Round-Up? What fascinates you about cowboy life? What questions do you have about this 100-year-old event or the community that keeps it alive each year?
- Bob Miller: Long-time Round-Up volunteer
- Ronnie Currin: Former Pendleton Round-up champion
- Josh Peek: Professional Rodeo Cowboy
- Shirley Morris: Filmmaker of Oh, You Cowgirl!
Note: If you’re in Pendleton, you’re invited to be part of the audience for our show from The Rainbow Cafe at 209 S. Main Street. The saloon opens at 6 a.m. We’ll be there at 8 a.m. to greet you, and we’ll start the show at 9!