Pendleton Round-Up

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Pendleton Round-Up

The Claim

Pendleton Round-Up is a real-deal, authentic Old West phenomenon unlike any other rodeo.

The Reality

History is authentically repeated every September in Pendleton, with a bigger purse and more thrills than most rodeos.

The Pendleton Round-Up has been bucking every year since 1910 and, miraculously, the essence of the rodeo hasn’t changed much. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” says Wayne Brooks, a rodeo announcer who has worked the Pendleton Round-Up for years. “They’ve seen 50,000 to 60,000 people for a hundred years, so they must be doing something right.”

The bucking chutes still have wooden gates from 1939. Cowboys still flush with adrenaline thanks to the unique “run-in” system—the steer runs down a fifty-foot chute adjacent to the cowboy, who must time the ride down his own chute with absolute precision before they both emerge onto a grass infield. (At other rodeos, animals and cowboys begin at a standstill before roping and tying happens on a dirt surface.) “Extra challenges, including the speed of the riders, the grass and the large size of the arena, make it a very exciting show,” says Brooks.

The thrills begin right from the start, with a dramatic silent fifteen-minute countdown to the introduction of the rodeo court of four princesses and one queen. Together, they jump their horses over fences before galloping around the arena at high speeds. The Round-Up goes on for four days and four-plus hours of competition each day—a long time for any rodeo. The bottom line: Pendleton is the real deal in the national rodeo scene.

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