Ellensburg Rodeo coming Labor Day weekend

by Rachal Pinkerton, For the Basin Business Journal
| July 19, 2021 1:00 AM

ELLENSBURG — The annual Ellensburg Rodeo once again will be Labor Day weekend. One of American’s Top 10 professional rodeos, organizers of this year’s events are hoping to put on an experience similar to past rodeos.

The Ellensburg Rodeo was started in 1923 by ranchers, Native Americans, farmers and community-minded citizens who wanted to preserve the vanishing frontier life and bring visitors to town. The Kittitas County Fair Board proposed adding a rodeo to the fair each fall. Rodeos before were during the fair, but not on an annual basis. Organizers thought an annual rodeo would add to the quality of the fair and bring in more visitors.

For centuries, the Kittitas Band of the Yakama Nation joined other Columbia Plateau Indians each fall for a pilgrimage to the meeting grounds at Kittitas. The Kittitas and Yakama Indians saw the rodeo as a way to preserve their traditional horse racing and dancing.

Before the rodeo could take place, land needed to be purchased and a stadium built. Kittitas County commissioners allocated $10,000 for the project. Eighteen acres of land was purchased adjacent to the Kittitas County Fairgrounds for $6,450. The rest of the money was used to purchase supplies to build the stadium. With the help of more than 500 volunteers, the project was completed in time for the 1923 fair.

This year’s action begins on Wednesday, Sept. 1, with roping and the free Ellensburg Rodeo Hoedown in the Downtown. On Thursday, Sept. 2, the Kittitas County Fair and carnival rides open and Rockin’ the Arena takes place.

The annual Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame banquet will be Thursday evening. The Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame honors and inducts national contestants, local contestants, clowns, announcers, judges, trick riders, volunteers, livestock and pioneer rodeo families.

On Friday, Sept. 3, the Ellensburg Rodeo-Patriot Night will take place. Saturday, Sept. 4, will include a pancake breakfast, western parade, more rodeo events and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Xtreme Bulls. Cowboy church, the Ellensburg Rodeo-Tough Enough to Wear Pink and the Sunday night show will take place on Sunday, Sept. 5.

Monday, Sept. 6, will be the last day of events and includes the Cattle Baron’s Champagne Brunch and the Ellensburg Rodeo Finals. Monday also will be the last day for the Kittitas County Fair.

Entertainers will perform Behind the Chutes various nights. Tickets for the rodeo include admission to the Kittitas County Fair. For more information, visit ellensburgrodeo.com.