Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Pendleton Round-Up: Let 'er buck!

Statue at Round-Up arena entrance
Whenever I make a list of my favorite things, rodeos are always on the list. I love a good rodeo! Fortunately, I live in the West, where there are plenty of opportunities to indulge this passion.

I grew up going to rodeos. We almost always went to the St. Paul, Oregon, rodeo over the Fourth of July with its awesome fireworks after each night's performance. When we didn't spend July 4 at St. Paul, we spent it at the Mollala Buckaroo where organizers brought in stars from top television Westerns to entertain. I remember one year that I was close enough to touch Annie Oakley's horse as it walked by. Of course, Annie was really the actress Gail Davis, but it still was an awesome experience for a kid.

Yesterday, we attended the Pendleton Round-Up, one of the top rodeos in the West. In a couple of events, the animals bested the cowboys, though they didn't get points for doing this. Everyone laughed as one winning steer left the cowboy in the lurch then ambled off to nibble grass on the grassy oval in the middle of the arena as he wasn't in any hurry to go back to the pen. The round-up arena doubles as the high school football field.

It was a nice rodeo, but not that all exciting. For us, the highlight of the day was the Happy Canyon pageant, put on by Native American plateau tribes. More than 400 people participated in the pageant which began with explanations of Indian traditions and their way of life. It progressed with the coming of the white man to the West and how this movement changed their way of life. The finale was absolutely stunning, as a brave astride a magnificent paint horse rode to an upper stage holding the U.S. flag as the audience sang the national anthem. This was especially moving as just yesterday morning it was announced the ambassador to Libya had been killed when terrorists attacked the embassy there.

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