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Annual event begins Thursday morning with slack, nightly performances begin at 7 p.m.

It's rodeo time again.Lon Austin

The Crooked River Roundup is back, starting with slack next Thursday morning.

The annual event has been named one of the top medium-sized rodeos in the country, and according to early reports, this year could be even better.

In an effort to improve the rough stock performances while honoring one of the founders of the Roundup, organizers have made a major change for this year.

The saddle bronc riding will now be the Orville Yancey Featured Event.

There will be $10,000 of added money, making it one of the top-paying rodeos for the event.

The end result is that saddle bronc riding should be exceptional this year. Expect to see many of the top riders in the country make the trip to Prineville.

Adding to the excitement, the Roundup has also added a large electronic board to show live and replay coverage of the rodeo.

That means that no matter what seat you have, everyone should be able to have an up-close view of events.

The TV viewing should be especially good for all of the rough stock events.

The Roundup has also added junior bull riding this year.

That should be a good thing as recent years have seen a drop off of participants at the high school level in all of the rough stock events.

Giving youth bull riders an opportunity to show their skills in front of such a large audience should encourage more kids to continue in the sport, a good thing for the future of rodeo.

Not a rodeo fan? Well, there is plenty of other things coming up.

The annual Splash N' Dash is currently taking registrations for each of their four events.

In addition to the original Splash N' Dash, which includes swimming, biking, kayaking and running, participants may now choose from a triathlon, duathlon, or the John Marsh Memorial 5K run.

Except for the 5K run, all events can be done as individuals or relay teams.

If you want to see just how fit you are, I challenge you to do the entire Splash N' Dash as an individual. It is a great event and fun for the whole family.

Speaking of fun, I have a special trip coming up this weekend. It will be rushed, but from a sports photography point of view, it is going to be special.

Most small town sports editors spend the majority of their time on high school sports, with an occasional story about youth sports, a few stories concerning college athletes, and of course the usual stories about summer golf tournaments, rodeo, horse races and the like.

Once in a great while, we get to report on a college event, and if lucky, once or twice in a career, we get to see a professional sporting event.

This week, I will be covering a NASCAR race at Sonoma, California.

It will be a bit of a rushed trip. We leave today for the 500-plus mile drive, and I pick my press pass up late this afternoon.

Saturday morning, I have a required safety meeting. After all, it wouldn't look good if I got run over by a race car.

Early in my career as a sports reporter, I was run over by a pick-up man and his horse at the Paulina Rodeo, and I would rather not make the same mistake with something as large as a car.

Saturday afternoon is qualifying for Sunday's race as well as a NASCAR Pro Series West race.

Then Sunday, beginning at noon, is the Monster Energy Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350.

I know that auto racing is not everyone's cup of tea.

Still, it is a major sporting event, and road races typically have a lot of beating and banging between cars, leading to heated feelings and drama.

In addition to auto racing, there will be a stunt plane performance and a fly over from a jet fighter group.

I am really excited about the opportunity to photograph something totally different.

Don't forget, the horse races are rapidly approaching as well.

Usually, summer is a slow time for local sports reporters. So far, that has not been the case.

Two weekends ago, I was in Seattle for a half marathon. Last weekend, I was at the Oregon High School Rodeo Association State Finals.

This week is NASCAR. Next week it's rodeo. All in all, it's a great time to be a sports reporter.


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