Pendleton Round-Up 101
For many, the Friday we spend in Pendleton will be one of the best days of their Cycle Oregon experience. And, while the Round-Up itself doesn’t start until the afternoon, there are related festivities that promise to keep a smile on your face from the moment you arise until the moment you (attempt to) go to sleep.
The day begins at 9 am with the Westward Ho! Parade, which pays tribute to the early days of the West and the pioneers whose descendants participate in the Round-Up. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event, the parade will be led by 100 flag-bearing riders on horseback, followed by a procession of covered wagons, Mormon carts, buggies, surreys and all manner of authentic Old West transport.
Then it’s off to the Round-Up, where we’ll be treated to an afternoon of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, steer roping, barrel racing and bull riding. We’ll also enjoy a procession of the area Tribes and Native American dancing.
Each day the Round-Up will also feature a “throwback event” from years gone by, and on Friday we’ll also get to see the serpentine, which is a magnificent procession of horses that snakes its way through the grounds. The serpentine begins before the official 1:15 Round-Up start time, so plan to get there early.
Those who want to mix it up with the crowd during the rodeo are sure to love the world-famous “Let ‘er Buck Room.” At this particular watering hole you can have any beverage you like as long as it’s hard liquor. Requests for beer will be politely declined and requests for wine or umbrella drinks are likely to end badly.
If this is your first experience with rodeo, you’re in for a treat. The basics of each event will be outlined in the Round-Up program. If you’d like to “learn the ropes” before you arrive, this primer is a good place to start. There’s also a lot of great information on the Round-Up website.
Just across the street from the Round-Up grounds is a gift shop and a great Round-Up Museum and Hall of Fame that is highly worthwhile.
The final event of the day is the Happy Canyon Night Show. This historical pageant tells the story of how the West was settled, from the perspective of the pioneers as well as the local Indian tribes, and it effectively showcases and celebrates both cultures. In many cases, different roles in the show have been passed down through multiple generations of family members. Happy Canyon is punctuated by a fireworks display and, for the daring, music and dancing at Goldie’s at the Canyon followed by general revelry that should be winding down at about the same time we need to saddle up for Saturday’s epic climb.
Let ‘er Bike!