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Since 1916 the Happy Canyon Night Show has thrilled audiences and become the world’s most unique Indian Pageant. Every year over 500 volunteers come together to portray the culture and traditions of local tribes, the coming of Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail pioneers, concluding with the fast action of a frontier town. We invite you to join us in the tradition and history of Happy Canyon, where the Old West lives on!
The name Happy Canyon was given to that part of the Umatilla River area from the Barnhart station to the Jack Morton farm one mile below Nolan.
The idea of the current Happy Canyon show was formed following the Umatilla-Morrow County Fair, which was held on what is now the corner of Frazier and Main Streets in Pendleton. Roy Raley, Lee Drake and George Hartman are credited with holding the discussion, concluding evening entertainment was needed for the Round-Up crowds.
Roy Raley wrote a show that was what we now know as the Wild West portion of Happy Canyon. History tells us that he used stories from his father, Colonel Raley, who came to Oregon on the Oregon Trail. Their farm was located where the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution is now. In 1914 the show used a wooden clapboard set at the corner of Frazier and Main Street. The Indian portion of the show was to come in 1916.
The current script for Happy Canyon began. A new structure was built at the site currently occupied by Western Auto and Baxter Auto Parts and the East Oregonian reported that the last nail was driven in as the show opened to a sell-out crowd.
World War II – Happy Canyon was not held
Happy Canyon’s last show at the site currently occupied by Western Auto and Baxter Auto Parts. The property was sold to Safeway stores for $100,000. Construction of the present Happy Canyon facility was started in cooperation with local, state, and federal government agencies.
The first show was held in the present location. The new structure featured an enlarged seating capacity for 4,230.
Pendleton’s District Attorney, Joe Smith, declared gambling illegal at Happy Canyon.
The Oregon legislature enacted the Happy Canyon Gambling Act, put through by Ruff Raymond, which is currently used by other non-profit establishments throughout Oregon.
Happy Canyon purchased adjacent property, creating additional parking.
Happy Canyon Directors were involved in a stagecoach accident during the Westward Ho! Parade. Several were injured and past directors filled in for them.
Pendleton purchased the National Guard Armory and converted it to a convention center.
Happy Canyon’s 75th Anniversary celebration.
New east wing of Happy Canyon scenery completed.
East half of scenery replaced.
PBR event was held for the first time in the Happy Canyon arena on Monday and Tuesday of Round-Up week.
The Happy Canyon Arena Roof is removed after 50 years of service as it becomes a safety concern. The Board undertakes a fundraising project to replace the roof and upgrade arena facilities.
Happy Canyon celebrates its 90th anniversary with a large contingent of volunteers representing the Night Show at the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.
In 2009 the roof was replaced after a successful fund raising effort. The Happy Canyon board is also moving forward with fundraising efforts aimed at upgrading the structure with some exciting improvements.
Happy Canyon Arena adds mezzanine and elevator.
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