UPDATE (2:53 p.m. PT) — Oregon's largest annual rodeo is planning on moving forward with its 110th anniversary this September.
Organizers for the Pendleton Round-Up have said the event will take place this September and that they are taking steps to make sure the event remains safe amid the coronavirus outbreak. Round-Up President Randy Bracher said in an email to OPB Tuesday that they're having ongoing conversations with officials, and organizers "will need to make a call sometime mid July."
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of all of you, our community, our Staff/Directors and families,” the Round-Up’s website reads. “We are staying up to date with all the information, and planning accordingly.”
Bracher said the rodeo’s board of directors is actively meeting with Umatilla County health officials and county commissioners every two weeks to keep up to date on the latest guidance — and whether they need to change course.
“We have to have their blessing, and we’re of course talking to state officials as well,” Bracher said.
A growing number of large events have been canceled in Oregon recently: Pickathon in Clackamas County, the Oregon State Fair in Salem, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. In announcing her "Reopening Oregon Framework," Gov. Kate Brown said "all large gatherings should be cancelled or significantly modified through at least September." The Pendleton Round-Up comes at the tail end of the time period Brown outlined — after the state fair and Pickathon.
Bracher said he’s prepared to follow protocols for a “modified event,” which could include limiting the number of people, increased social distancing and adding sanitation stations. Bracher said the Round-Up is waiting on specific guidance from the governor on how to move forward with best practices, and that the Round-Up would implement them.
“We’re looking into doing that, no matter what the protocol is. More signage of just the things you learn in kindergarten and preschool: Wash your hands when you go to the bathroom, wash your hands before you eat,” Bracher said. “It seems elementary, but every little bit helps.”
Bracher said the rodeo is a significant economic driver for the county, keeping many businesses alive through the year — but recognizes that the turmoil caused by the coronavirus isn’t a localized issue.
“It’s not just a fight for the community, it’s a fight for the globe.”
The Pendleton Round-Up is scheduled for Sept. 16–19.