Huge crowds attend Roundup
Changing the days for the Crooked River Roundup so that the event ended on a Saturday instead of a Sunday was a big risk, but the risk seemed to pay off in a big way as huge crowds attended the 73rd annual rodeo.
"I couldn't be more pleased," Roundup president Jason Snider said following the event. "We had great weather. We had great attendance. We were busting at the seams. All the pieces seemed to come together. I was tickled."
In recent years, attendance for the Sunday afternoon performance has lagged. However, no one really knew what kind of attendance they would get by moving the first go round of the rodeo to Thursday.
"Looking at the numbers, Thursday night compared to some recent Sundays we've had; there were probably twice as many people in the grandstands," Snider said.
Attendance only built from there. Friday saw the main grandstands filled nearly to capacity, and by Saturday evening, it was difficult to find a seat anywhere around the arena.
"There was hardly a place to wedge yourself in," Snider said. "All of the areas where we had seating were at capacity."
With the dates of the Roundup moved so that it didn't coincide with a rodeo in Reno, Nevada, some of the big-name rodeo performers who have attended the Roundup in recent years failed to attend. However, there were still plenty of nationally ranked cowboys who competed.
Snider noted that the addition of breakaway roping, wild horse races, and a kids calf scramble were all well received.
"All the kids seemed to have a great time," Snider said of the calf scramble. "And the girls were really excited to run out of that long alley (in the breakaway roping). They had a time trying to figure out how to come out of there, but once they did, they did well."
Now in its second year, the alley that they push calves and steers out of for the timed events has continued to bring rave reviews and add excitement to the rodeo.
In a typical rodeo, competitors are secured in a short box with a rope stretched across the front that drops once the calf or steer has left a chute, giving the animal a slight head start. Beginning last year, the Crooked River Roundup changed all of that, instead pushing the calf down an alley with a cowboy on horseback to ensure that the animal is moving quickly as it enters the arena. Meanwhile, the cowboy or cowgirl has to attempt to correctly time the steers exit from the alley to keep from breaking the barrier rope.
The result is that both calf and cowboy are moving at full speed when they finally enter the arena, leading to longer than usual times, and added speed and excitement.
In no event is the speed more evident than in the steer wrestling.
Typically, the best steer wrestlers are on top of their steer just yards out of the chute. Instead, it was not uncommon for a run to take most of the arena.
The end result was high speeds, some big spills, and added drama.
"It makes it kind of wild," Snider said. "All of the horses are running 30 miles an hour. Getting off a horse at that speed right in front of everybody; it's kind of one of those barbarian things."
And cowboys seem to be supportive of the change.
Blake Knowles (Heppner) and Trevor Knowles (Prairie City), two of the top steer wrestlers in the country, competed in Ponoka, Alberta, Canada, on Thursday, then drove to Prineville for Friday's Roundup before returning to Ponoka for a performance on Saturday.
"Blake was actually sitting second in the average in Ponoka, so he came to Prineville and ran well and then turned around for Ponoka," Snider said. "His commitment to us was 'you guys put the time and the money and the effort into this, we'll be here. If you look at it not only from a contestant's standpoint, everybody wants to watch, that's what's so cool about this.'"
For the Knowles cousins, the decision to continue to support the Roundup, despite the long drive, paid off in a big way.
Trevor Knowles won the first go round in the event with a time of 5.3 seconds, pocketing $1,160 for his effort. Meanwhile, Blake Knowles had even more success, placing second in the first go round of the event with a time of 7.0, winning the second go round with a time of 5.8 seconds, and winning the average with a total time of 12.8 seconds on two head, picking up $2,900 for his effort.
Meanwhile, although the run wasn't fast enough to place, Trevor's second go round performance may have been the performance of the rodeo. His steer sprinted down the arena, and Knowles didn't dismount until 80 yards down the arena. Even then, he didn't have full control of the steer, taking three or four sprinting strides before he was able to catch up with the steer. His time of just over 12 seconds for the effort and brought a huge roar from the crowd, despite failing to place.
Brandon Mackenzie of Jordan Valley placed third in the first go round of steer wrestling with a time of 8.4 seconds, while Travis Taruscio of Stanfield was fourth with a time of 9.4 seconds. Hayden Hall of Touchet, Washington, placed second in the second go round with a time of 8.0, while Justin Kimsey of Kennewick, Washington, was third, 9.3, and Colin Wolfe of Wenatchee, Washington, was fourth in 9.4 seconds.
Taruscio finished second behind Knowles in the average with a time of 19.1 seconds, while Kimsey was third, 19.4, and Baker City's Jesse Brown finished fourth with a total time of 22.5 seconds.
Caleb McMillan of Soap Lake, Washington, was the big winner in this year's Roundup, earning the All-Around Cowboy title.
Competing in bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping, McMillan picked up pay checks totaling $4,149.
McMillan's score of 75.5 was good for fifth in bull riding, while a time of 20.4 left him third in the first go round of steer roping. Although McMillan failed to cash in steer wrestling, he placed first in both the first go round, 9.7 seconds, and the average, 22.3 seconds, in tie-down roping to solidify his hold on the all-around.
Also cashing in the first go round of tie-down roping were Kass Kayser of Ellensburg, Washington, 11.6, Roger Nonella of Redmond in 12.0, and Aaron Kreps of White Salmon, Washington, with a time of 12.1.
Ricky Canton of Navasota, Texas, won the second go round in the event with a time of 10.5, while Clay Schricker of Adrian was second in 11.4. Jake Pratt, Ellensburg, Washington, finished third, 11.9, with Hermiston's Preston Pederson placing fourth in 12.2.
Pratt and Kyser placed second and third, respectively, in the average, while Jason Minor of Ellensburg, Washington, was fourth.
Howdy McGinn of Durkee won the first round of steer roping, 15.5, while La Grande's Doug Bean was second, 16.1. Tying for fourth place behind McMillan in third were Tygh Campbell of Athena and Fred Brown of Colbert, Washington, with identical times of 22.2.
Corey Ross of Liberty Hill, Texas, won the second go round in the event with a time of 14.6, while Matt Roberson of Odessa, Washington, was second in 15.3, and Bean finished third, 17.9. Pendleton's Pake Sorey finished fourth with a time of 19.1.
Bean won the average in the event with a combined time of 34.0, while Roberson placed second, Joseph's Mel Coleman took third, and Ross fourth.
Jake Stanley of Hermiston and Bucky Campbell of Benton City, Washington, won the team roping average, with a time of 15.0. Ryan Opie of Crane and Chase Hansen of Homedale, Idaho, were second in 15.4, while Prineville's Austin and Dayton Stafford were third in 18.6 with Levi Simpson of Ponoka, Alberta, and Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, Alberta, placing fourth in 19.2.
Kolton Schmidt of BarrHead, Alberta, and Cole Davison of Roosevelt, Utah, won the first go round of the team roping in 6.0, while Simpson and Buhler were second, 6.7, and Stanley and Campbell were third, 7.2. Jordan Tye of Canby and Jason Minor finished fourth with a time of 7.3 seconds.
Bo Sickler of Kennewick, Washington, and Jasper Olinger of Ellensburg, Washington, won the second go round in the event with a time of 6.6, with Poke Robbins of Cave Junction, and Cort Crume of Grants Pass tying with Jim Powers of Wapato, Washington, and Matt Meyer of Toppenish, Washington, for second with a time of 7.1. Stanley and Campbell were fourth in 7.8 seconds.
The remaining events in the rodeo all had just one go round.
Terrebonne's Austin Foss finished first in bareback riding with a score of 79 points. Logan Patterson of Kim, Colorado, and Kirk St. Clair of Blodgett, tied for second, with scores of 71.5, while Kevin Lusk of Bonney Lake, Washington, was fourth with a score of 70.
Tyrell Smith of Sand Coulee, Montana, won the saddle bronc riding with a score of 82.5 points, while Sam Harper of Paradise Valley, Nevada, was second, 78.5, Johnny Espeland of Tygh Valley, was third, 78, and Call Marr of Twin Butte, Alberta, was fourth, 76.
Dakota Beck of Moses Lake, Washington, won the bull riding with a score of 87.5. Colby Hill of Del Rio, Texas, was second with a score of 82.5, with Thor Hoefer of Spirit Lake, Idaho, placing third, 80.5, and Derek Kolbaba of Walla Walla, Washington, finishing fourth, 79.
Tanya Jones of Culver won the barrel racing with a time of 17.43 seconds, with Teri Bangart of Olympia, Washington, placing second, 17.56, Jordan Minor of Hermiston, third in 17.60, and Megan McLeod-Sprague of Marsing, Idaho, fourth in 17.62 seconds.
The remaining events, including breakaway roping, were not PRCA sanctioned.
Jordan Minor won the breakaway roping with a time of 2.3 seconds, while Jenna Johnson of Warm Springs was second in 2.8 seconds.
Prineville's Sean Santucci teamed with Hermiston's Jason Minor to win the wild cow milking with a time of 1:08, while Paulina's Jeb Bell won the ranch bronc riding with scores of 76 and 69 for a two ride total of 145.
The David Gregory Team won the wild horse race.
Snider said that he was pleased with the stock that stock contractor Jeff Davis and Four Star Rodeo brought to the Roundup.
"I thought he brought outstanding stock," Snider said. "It was apparent from where I stood, and it was also something that other folks recognized. Our bull riding numbers were up, our bronc riding numbers were up. He brought a bunch of stock where people could compete."
Snider was also pleased with the work done by the Roundup committee members and volunteers who made this year's event possible.
"I just want to recognize all the effort the committee does and all the people in the community that help us out," he said.
Snider added that he expects the Roundup to continue with most of the changes that they have made in the last couple of years.
"Everybody seems to get along with the program, and the show runs from top to bottom really seamless. I like the structure of it right now. If we keep it pretty much as it is, I think we will have some success. We just need to fine-tune some of the pieces and figure out how to touch them up and put a little chrome on them more than anything."