Rodeo honors John Leavitt


Last updated 6/20/2023 at 11:41am

Photo by Jerry Baldock

An empty saddle procession led off the Saturday afternoon Rodeo, honoring longtime board member and rodeo contestant John Leavitt.

For 45 years, John Leavitt was a key man in staging the annual Sisters Rodeo.

Leavitt, who died in April, became a Sisters Rodeo board member in the 1980s and served as an arena director and timed-event coordinator, as well as serving on the queen-selection committee. And throughout most of those years, he was also a contestant, having grown up in a rodeo family.

Leavitt grew up on his family's cattle ranch in Lakeview. At the age of 24, Leavitt toured Europe with the Rodeo Far West Tour. The tour was a Wild West show similar to the Buffalo Bill shows at the turn of the 20th Century. The tour included 60 people - cowboys, barrel racers, 15 Sioux Indian dancers, and livestock.

Photo by Jerry Baldock

The Sisters Rodeo has named the arena in honor of John Leavitt.

At the Saturday afternoon performance of the Sisters Rodeo last weekend, the organization to which he gave so much honored him. Earlier in the week, a sign went up on the announcer's box, naming the arena he ran so effectively the John Leavitt Memorial Arena.

A rider led a horse with an empty saddle in a procession around the arena, rodeo's version of the "missing man formation."

Announcer Wayne Brooks said, "This man was such an icon here in Sisters and around the Northwest that we wouldn't be who we are without him."

Brooks saluted the man that many have called "the heart and soul of the Rodeo," and offered a salute to Leavitt's caregivers from Partners In Care, who cared for him in the illness that took him off down the long trail.


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