The 29th version of the Cheney Rodeo comes out of the chute tonight when the cowboys and cowgirls start ropin’ and ridin’ at 7:30 at the Cheney Rodeo Grounds.
Other than the new lights at the Rodeo Grounds - which means, of course, that the rodeo can now go on past dusk - the annual event will continue all the long-held traditions.
The Cheney Rodeo draws several thousand fans each year who want a slice of small-town rodeo: The arena is outdoors, and fans park in a field, sit on bleachers and munch on hotdogs and hamburgers while watching the sometimes dusty action.
The rodeo’s a PRCA-sanctioned event, which means competitors can earn points toward qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas.
And despite the relative size of the event, the cowboys at the Cheney Rodeo aren’t the B-team. Because the Calgary Stampede is going on at the same time, some of the nationally ranked cowboys stop here to pick up some points on their way to or from Calgary.
There will be all the usual events at the rodeo - bull riding, saddlebronc riding, steer roping, barrel racing - as well as some fun events for the kids. Tonight and Saturday children under the age of 10 can participate in mutton bustin’ in which they ride sheep. Saturday and Sunday there will be a balloon scramble in the arena for kids younger than 6.
Behind the bleachers, there will be a pet brahma bull on which kids can sit and have their picture taken.
And what would be a rodeo without a parade? Cheney’s rodeo parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday down the main street of Cheney.
Clown Bert Davis and bullfighter Mike Gotham will keep the animals from running down the cowboys after they’re bucked off. The stock will be provided by Big Bend Rodeo Co. in Ritzville, which last year provided some of the same animals to the National Finals Rodeo.
The Cheney Rodeo has never sold out, but there have been fans who arrived late to find standing room only. The bleachers seat about 3,500.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CHENEY RODEO Location and time: Cheney Rodeo Grounds (take the Four Lakes exit from Interstate 90; the Rodeo Grounds are 13 miles west of Spokane), tonight at 7:30, Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: $10 for tonight and Sunday, $12 for Saturday.