The first Pendleton Round-Up was to be a frontier exhibition of picturesque pastimes, Indian and military spectacles, cowboy racing and bronco busting for the championship of the Northwest. It turned out to be that and more.
For the initial show, all stores closed. The largest crowd in Pendletons history, 7,000 strong, showed up for the first show on September 29, 1910, a newspaper write reported.
The words Pendleton and Round-Up are on the lips of thousands and will continue to be for months and years to come. The Round-Up is a whirlwind success.
Grow it did. Two decades later, patrons showed up from 36 states and eight foreign countries. Following two years in which the Round-Up was not held, because of World War II, attendance climbed again, eventually reaching 50,000 or more for the four-day show.
Success bred success and Round-Up stayed in high gear, says the book Let er Buck! A history of the Pendleton Round-Up.
The key to the success of the rodeo and its many attendant activities is community participation volunteers.
Indian participation has been a strong attraction, too, in the Round-Up arena, at Happy Canyon, in the Indian Village and in the Westward Ho! Parade.
Long before womens lib, the fairer sex got into the act at the Round-Up, cowgirls in the early days of the Round-Up could be as tough as men. In 1914 Bertha Blanchett, wife of cowboy Del Blancett, came within 12 points of winning the all-around title.
Midway through the Round-Ups colorful history, a Eugene newspaper summed it up with a characterization that remains applicable today
In good times and bad, Pendleton has gone on with the Round-Up. People over on the Umatilla have always been willing to take a chance. Maybe thats the real cowboy spirit. Maybe its a little bit tougher brand of civic spirit. Anyhow, in Pendleton, the show goes on.
The Native Americans
Native Americans have been an integral component of the Pendleton Round-Up since its inception.
Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla Indians who live on a reservation eight miles east of Pendleton, host a grand tribal village that annually includes more than 300 teepees. Indians from around the Northwest travel to Pondleton where they gather in the village to visit with friends and relatives, take part in the Happy Canyon Pageant and dance in the arena during rodeo matinees.
Additionally, the Round-Up serves as the forum for two Indian beauty contests, the American Indian Beauty Contest, which is held Friday morning prior to the Westward Ho! parade on Main Street in Pendleton, and the Junior Indian Beauty Contest, held Thursday morning at the Roy Raley Park adjacent to the Round-Up grounds.
Another key event during the week is a Round-Up Pow Wow dance competition, which occurs at 9 a. m. on Saturday in the Round-Up arena. Winners receive prized blankets made by Pendleton Woolen Mills. The dances held on Saturday morning are in memory of Clarence Bishop, founder of Pendleton Woolen Mills.
For further information on the Pendleton Round-up, please visithttp://pendletonroundup.com/