Cowboys and rodeos are as much a part of the rural West as coffee bars are to Seattle.
It seems like every town in the Inland Northwest has a rodeo, a carryover from the Wild West days when cowboys competed informally against each other and the ranches they rode for.
Spectators can feel the excitement in the air as a cowboy pits his strength and skill against the unleashed power of a bucking bronc or bull.
Rodeo stock animals are genetically bred for bucking, the same way that horses are bred to run or cows are bred to yield milk.
A horse has to want to buck; it can’t be made to buck on cue.
A stockman for the Ellensburg Rodeo told me that the animals are not used more than two times a month, and their health is checked before and after each event. After giving 10 years of rodeo work, most animals are retired for breeding.
Contrary to some people’s belief, the animals are well fed and receive the best of care because they represent a financial investment to the stockman, whose reputation and income are dependent on satisfied rodeo promoters and contestants.
Here are some selected rodeos for your entertainment pleasure:
Calgary Exhibition & Stampede
Calgary takes on a western atmosphere during the famous stampede. There is singing and dancing in the streets. You can rustle up a free pancake breakfast every morning, where the cooks are the team members in the nightly chuckwagon races.
The stampede area has a plethora of activities, events and entertainment from morning to night. The evening musical extravaganza is a must-see event.
This year’s festival will be held July 7-16. General admission to the grounds is about $6 (U.S. dollar equivalent). Rodeo seating ranges from $12 to $18. Evening events and stage show tickets range from $15 to $23.
For ticket reservations: (800) 661-1767 or (403) 269-9822.
For a program of events and general information: (800) 661- 1260 or (403) 261-0101.
For general tourism information: Calgary Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 661-1678 or (403) 263-8510.
The Ellensburg Rodeo is ranked among the top 10 rodeos in the country because of its generous purse for competitors. The event is held every Labor Day weekend. Admission costs from $9 to $18.
For ticket reservations: Ellensburg Rodeo, (800) 637-2444 or (509) 962-7831.
For general tourism information: Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce, (509) 925-3137.
Home of Champions Rodeo
Red Lodge, Mont.
Red Lodge’s Home of Champions Rodeo earned its name because there are six past world champions and numerous national champions from the county. The 65th annual rodeo will be held July 2-4. Admission price is $6 for general seating and $12 for reserved box seating.
For ticket reservations and general tourism information: Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce, (406) 446-1718.
Tygh Valley Rodeo
Tygh Valley, Ore.
The Tygh Valley rodeo is an allIndian rodeo. It is a regional event for competitors from all tribes throughout the western United States and Canada. The event takes place on May 20 and 21. Price was not available at press time.
For rodeo information: (503) 544-3371.
For general tourism information: The Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 255-3385 or (503) 296-6616.
Lewiston Roundup Rodeo
The Lewiston Roundup is one of the professional circuit events in Idaho. It will be held Sept. 7-10. Admission ranges from $9 to $12.
For rodeo tickets and information: (208) 746-6324.
For general tourism information: Lewiston Chamber of Commerce, (208) 743-3531.
Elks Rodeo, Keremeos, British Columbia
The Elks Rodeo is one of Canada’s oldest rodeos. The event is held May 21-22. Admission is about $6 (U.S. dollar equivalent).
For rodeo information: (604) 499-5175.
For general tourism information: Keremeos Information Center, (604) 499-5225.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: JUST FOR KIDS Keremeos, British Columbia is home to the Little Britches Rodeo. It will be held on May 20. Competitors are grouped by ages. Events are open to all children, regardless of experience. Admission is about $2. For information, call (604) 499-5175.