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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment April 17, 2015


6/17/2014 1:27:00 PM
Rodeo stars galloped through Sisters
Traditional rodeo action was hot, even when the weather was not at Sisters Rodeo. photo by Gary Miller
+ click to enlarge
Traditional rodeo action was hot, even when the weather was not at Sisters Rodeo. photo by Gary Miller

By Jodi Schneider McNamee


Sisters Rodeo marked its 74th year living up to its title as "The Biggest Little Show in the World!"

Despite some chilly weather, all events were well-attended and the action packed the house on Saturday. Some of the highest level of talent competed from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association this year to wow the audience with their extraordinary skills.

Sisters Rodeo offered the second-largest rodeo purse available in the month of June and the biggest available for the weekend. The lure of big prize-money traditionally brings the best of the West to Sisters. The Xtreme Bulls event on Wednesday night, followed by a dance, kicked the festivities off in strong fashion, drawing a big and enthusiastic crowd.

Helen Filey O'Brien was Sisters Rodeo Queen back in 1945, and participated in the Rodeo Parade on Saturday morning, then took her seat at the stadium in the first row of the blue section looking great wearing leather pants, her cowgirl boots and hat.

"I love the entire rodeo, especially the barrel racing," said O'Brien. "My son lives in Tumalo and gives me a ride from Bend every year to see Sisters Rodeo."

JJ Harrison, from Walla Walla, Washington, is a crowd favorite and in his eighth year as barrelman and clown at the rodeo. On Friday afternoon he spoke to all the little cowgirls and cowboys in a special assembly at Sisters Elementary School about the supportive kind of competition in the rodeo.

Rough stock riders help each other in the chutes and steer wrestlers trade off riding out to get the steers properly lined up for their competitors.

"Rodeo is unique because we support each other in competition," Harrison said. "Rodeo is the only sport where competitors work together to beat themselves."

Mandy Den from McMinnville brought her family, including her 6-year-old daughter Natalie and 4-year-old niece Courtney, who were both hooting and hollering in the front row as Rodeo Queen Brooklyn Nelson rode out on horseback in the arena.

"We've been coming to Sisters Rodeo for 15 years, it's all about the community and their families," said Den. "We love the small-town feel to it all."

A special highlight this year was the Bobby Kerr Mustang Act. This is their first journey to the Northwest. Kerr demonstrates how tamable the wild mustang is through their unique tricks and riding. He shows the audience through his accomplished training skills just how much incredible trust these formerly wild horses have in him.

"These wild horses are an American icon, a legend. The cowboys tamed the West riding these horses, the U.S. Cavalry rode them. In America the mustangs are very instrumental to the shaping and growth of this nation," Kerr announced to the audience.

He thrilled the crowd when he let a wild erratic mechanical cow loose for his mustang, Jinglebob, to chase down on cue.

One of the most physically demanding sports in rodeo is bareback riding; its toll on the body is immense. Bareback riding offers a sensation about as enjoyable as riding a jackhammer, pogo stick-style, using only one hand.

The Sisters Rodeo honored John Hammack, a cowboy and logger raised in Sisters. Hammack died fighting a wildfire west of Sisters on August 1, 2013, when a burning snag broke and fell on him. As a bareback rider and bulldogger, Hammack won All-Around Cowboy at Sisters Rodeo in 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1984. The bareback riding prize was a buckle bearing his name. The buckle will serve as a permanent memorial.

Even though Tyler Scales from Severance, CO, battled several career-limiting injuries since joining the PRCA, including a severely broken leg in 2008, he came out on top Saturday, as he finished in a four-way tie with R.C. Landingham, Chase Erickson, and Seth Hardwick in the Bareback Riding Competition, with a score of 81.

Rodeo association member Bonnie Malone was excited about the success of this year's rodeo.

"We have the best mix of professionals in contestants, announcers and men in the arena any rodeo could wish for," she said. "We also have the most amazingly hardworking membership I've ever seen in any organization. All of them are the reason this is the biggest little show in the world, with the world's most loyal fans, old and new. We are all quite thrilled over the success of the week."









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