The Pendleton Round-Up may best be known for its heart-pounding rodeo and the professional cowboys and cowgirls who compete in it, but there’s another event in the arena that’s changing the lives of its participants. The Children’s Rodeo offers children with special needs the opportunity to be cowboys and cowgirls for fun inside the famous Round-Up Arena.
Some exciting changes have been made to the Children’s Rodeo this year.
1. The event will be held on Thursday (September 14, 2017) of Round-Up Week, not Wednesday like it has been in the past.
2. The time has been changed for the Children’s Rodeo to start at 10:30 AM, not 11:30 AM.
3. Organizers have expanded the age range. Participants can be ages 5 through 12 instead of ages 5 through 9.
Participants will also get to enjoy the theme of the day, Tough Enough to Wear Pink, which is traditionally on Thursday.
The 40 or so children who participate in the Children’s Rodeo are special education students with intellectual or physical disabilities. Each child receives a trophy, T-shirt, lariat, cowboy hat, scarf and a photo with a cowboy or cowgirl.
Activities include riding a horse, riding in a horse-drawn buggy, riding a hand-rocked pretend bull, roping a pretend steer, barrel racing on stick ponies, "milking" a wooden cow and pulling a ribbon off a goat's tail. Children can also enjoy visiting two authentic teepees and playing a Native American drum.
The Children’s Rodeo (formerly known as the Exceptional Rodeo) was founded in 1984 by the late Larry Rew, the liaison for the Round-Up Association, and Ernest Cristler from the former Umatilla-Morrow Education Service District. Currently, the Children’s Rodeo is sponsored by the Pendleton Round-Up Association and the InterMountain Education Service District (IMESD). Other contributors are Coca Cola, Pendleton Rotary and Walmart.
Every year, nearly 80 volunteers from the IMESD, the Round-Up Association and the Pendleton community work together to make this event a success.
Children’s Rodeo Director Karen Parker, Coordinator Linda Smith and Assistant Coordinator Ali VanHouten are very excited to watch these kids experience this sporting event and be a star for the day.
“When people are in the stands cheering, it lets the kids feel like they’re in the spotlight. They’re the stars and it makes them feel pretty special,” Parker said.
Several area school districts bring their students to the Children’s Rodeo to cheer on the participants. Those schools then receive tickets – courtesy of the Pendleton Round-Up Association – to watch the main rodeo afterward and they can visit the Indian teepee village and the Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame.
For more information or to arrange media interviews, contact:
Karen Parker, Children's Rodeo Director,
Linda Smith, Children's Rodeo Coordinator,
Michele Madril, IMESD Communications Specialist,
541-966-3115 (to schedule interviews)