In the era when life still moved slowly enough for day dreams, and neighbors visited each other on front porches, cowboys competed in the first Sisters Rodeo. These cowboys, amateurs and professionals, wore cloth squares hand painted with numbers pinned to their backs and waited for their events. Because the small-town rodeo offered purses of $500, equal to Pendleton and Cheyenne, the cowboys tagged Sisters Rodeo “The Biggest Little Show in the World.” The year was 1940.
Local couples had pooled $10,000 to produce the rodeo east of town on land next to the site that became Sisters Airport. Two years later, they purchased land on the west end of town and held rodeos there for the next thirty-four years. The events included bull and bronc riding, calf roping bull dogging, wild cow milking and wild horse races.
The rodeo went through its ups and down throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. But, 1979 found the rodeo at its permanent site, on 33 acres purchased from 1940 original members, Carl and Virginia Campbell. Within a few years, the rodeo had installed permanent stands and arena fencing, mostly by “creative” financing.
In 1988, the association was accepted as a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Big Daddy of professional rodeo. It joined St. Paul and Pendleton in this highly sought membership, an indication of the fine reputation Sisters had built through nearly 50 years of quality rodeo.
A member of the Columbia River Circuit of rodeos throughout the northwest and northern California, Sisters Rodeo was recognized at the Rodeo of the Year in 2009. It has been featured in the New York Times and on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Sisters Rodeo Association has maintained its quality of rodeo stock and high purses, guaranteeing that the best in the sport make Sisters part of their annual schedule. On the second weekend in June, Sisters Rodeo has the highest purse in the nation. It has the second highest in the entire month. This is a sure draw for top competitors. World champions return year after year.
With nearly 200 members, the association has also remained a valuable member of the Sisters community, granting annual student scholarships and supporting local charities and other non-profit organizations. The Western theme of the city of Sisters was inspired by Sisters Rodeo.
Sisters Rodeo will host their TETWP night June 14th. To find out more please visit www.sistersrodeo.com!