Pendleton Heritage: Oregon rodeo dates back to 1910 gathering

In every community, there always seems to be a signature event that defines the city, and that’s definitely the case in Pendleton, Ore.

The Pendleton Round-Up rodeo is woven deep into the hearts of the people of this eastern Oregon town.

Back on Sept. 29, 1910, a group of cowboys and Native Americans — men, women, boys and girls — all came together to celebrate the harvest and display their talents. Fans packed the wooden grandstand and spilled into the arena. Roy Baley and a group of young businessmen organized the event.

 The grass infield is one unique factor that makes Pendleton a special stop on the ProRodeo Tour.

Lo and behold, a rodeo broke out and the Pendleton Round-Up was born, making a $3,000 profit in its inaugural year. Ever since then, in the second week of September, the shout of “Let ‘er Buck” can be heard in every corner, as memories continue to be made while cowboys and cowgirls compete in the unique grass arena at the world famous Pendleton Round-Up Stadium.

The quality of this history-rich rodeo is second to none. The Pendleton Round-Up has become one of the sport’s most successful events.

In 2015, the Pendleton Round-Up was selected as the Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year. It also won that honor outright in 2003 and shared the honor with Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days in 2010.

Additionally, last year the PRCA’s annual Remuda Award recognized the Pendleton Round-Up committee for assembling the best pen of bucking horses.

“Providing stock so that every cowboy has a chance to win the Pendleton Round-Up is more important to us than anything else,” said David O’Neill, the vice-president of the Pendleton Round-Up committee. 

The 2016 edition of the Pendleton Round-Up is Sept. 14-17 as the top cowboys and cowgirls in the world make a final push to secure a spot in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER by finishing in the top 15 in the regular-season standings. The regular season concludes Sept. 30.

When the Pendleton Round-Up is taking place, everything in the town revolves around the rodeo, which attracts fans from all over the world. The rodeo also ignites a celebration in the city as the Main Street Cowboys sponsor the ‘Greatest Free Show in the West’ on Main Street.

Western Heritage still thrives in Pendleton, the cultural center of eastern Oregon. While attending the rodeo festivities, people may also go on the world famous Pendleton Underground Tour, and travel back 100 years into the life of the West, or as the P.U.T. Facebook page states, “visit a place where culture is kept, history is told and legends live on.”

The Pendleton Woolen Mills, which was founded in 1863, and is known for its woolen blankets and garments, is still operating today is a must-see, and don’t forget to stop by the historic Hamley & Co. western store.

One may also visit the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute which chronicles tribal heritage and the impact of Western migration from the Native American perspective or stop by for some fun and games at the Casino at Wildhorse Resort