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This year's rodeo adds breakaway roping and wild horse racing to evening performances

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - A saddle bronc rider makes a successful ride during the 2017 Crooked River Roundup. Event organizers expect both saddle bronc and bull riding to have fierce competition at this year's Roundup, which starts Thursday. The three-day event begins daily with slack at 11 a.m. followed by an evening performance each night at 7 p.m. 
The 73rd Annual Crooked River Roundup is set to start with slack Thursday morning at 11 a.m.

"At the end of the day, we are going to put on a great show," Roundup president Jason Snider said. "We've had a great response at the sponsorship level, and a lot of folks have been watching what we have been doing the last few years, and they are excited to be here again."

This year's Roundup will see several changes from past years.

Possibly the biggest change is that unlike previous years, there will be no Sunday afternoon performance. Instead, the rodeo will start a day earlier than usual with performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Slack will run each day beginning at 11 a.m., with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. nightly for performances, which are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

In addition to changing the days that the Roundup runs, expect to see several other changes with this year's event.

Organizers have added women's breakaway roping to the event card, with 63 signing up for the event.

Other new events for this year's Roundup include wild horse races, a youth calf scramble, and a boot race for younger children.

Both the calf scramble and boot race are slated for Thursday night.

Thursday is family night with children 12 and younger admitted free of charge.

"There will be no stick horse race, but Thursday night we are going to do a calf scramble for the older kids, and so the younger kids don't get run over, we are going to do a boot race," Snider said. "We want to get the kids involved in the dirt. Just show up, and we will have the announcer make the call and get them down to the fence and get them inside."

With the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday this year, organizers elected to move the Roundup so that it coincided with St. Paul, Molalla and Eugene rodeos in Oregon, and away from the Reno rodeo.

The decision was a calculated risk, and the results of that risk are yet to be determined.

"We moved our dates back one week to coincide with the Fourth of July," Snider said. "We had the opportunity this year to get off of them and just test and see. The St. Paul committee called me, and that's part of why we tried it."

Exactly how that will impact the Roundup is not entirely clear. However, entries are down from last year. As of last report, there are still 284 contestants entered in the rodeo, compared to more than 300 a year ago.

Still, Snider is confident that the Roundup will still be a quality event.

While total entries are down, the number of contestants in both bull riding and saddle bronc riding are up, with 40 entries for bull riding and 28 for saddle bronc.

Bull riders include nationally ranked Tyler Bingham (Honeyville, Utah), Jordan Spears (Terrebonne), Chase Dougherty (Woodburn) and Aaron Williams (Pismo Beach, California). Former Crook County High School cowboy Greg Shannon is also entered in the bull riding event.

Saddle bronc riding also has a pair of nationally ranked contestants in Chase Brooks (Belgrade, Montana) and Joe Harper (Paradise Valley, Nevada).

Although there are just 14 entered in bareback riding, those contestants include Austin Foss of Terrebonne, one of the top bareback riders in the country. Prineville's Brent Bannon will also compete in the bareback event.

Another major change for this year's Roundup is that organizers have selected a new stock contractor.

"We have brought in some new blood," Snider said. "It's Jeff Davis and Four Star Rodeo out of Cottonwood, California. The bull riding and saddle bronc riding should be exceptional."

Team roping should also be exciting this year, with some of the top ropers in the country competing.

Leading the way in the team roping is Terrebonne's Russell Cardoza. Other nationally ranked ropers entered in this year's Roundup include Riley and Brady Minor (Ellensburg, Washington), Cesar de la Cruz (Marana, Arizona), and Garrett Rogers (Baker City).

Crook County ropers McKennan Buckner as well as Austin and Dayton Stafford are also entered in team roping.

Steer wrestling includes three nationally ranked contestants, all from Central and Eastern Oregon.

They include Prineville cowboy Sean Santucci as well as Blake Knowles (Heppner) and Trevor Knowles (Prairie City).

Other Crook County athletes entered in this year's Roundup include Jayce Garthwaite (steer wrestling), Jordan Weaver (steer wrestling), Colleen Kingsbury (barrels), Lisa McLean (barrels), and Gretchen Schultz (barrels).

Other events contested in this year's Roundup include steer roping (slack only), tie-down roping and ranch bronc riding.

In addition, the midway has been expanded for this year's Roundup, including more vendors.

"The whole vendor area is going to grow out to where the big tent is," Snider said. "That will give people more room to mingle."

In addition, there will be a concert following both Friday and Saturday night's performances featuring Redmond Country and Western singer Matt Borden.

Ticket information

Thursday: Adults, $10. Children 12 and under free. Box seats $20.

Friday: Adults, $15. Children 4-12, $10. Children under 4 free. Box seats, $20.

Saturday: Adults $18. Children 4-12, $10. Under 4 free. Box seats, $20.

Where to purchase tickets: Tickets are available at Oregonians Credit Union, Prineville Men's Wear, The Gypsy Barn Boutique, Fair Feed & Supply, at the Crook County Fairgrounds office, online at crookedriverroundup.com, and at the gate.

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