News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Rodeo parade energizes Sisters

Some 3,000 spectators lined Cascade Avenue Saturday morning, treated to the annual Sisters Rodeo Parade. The event started promptly at 9:30 a.m. with a one hour window to get 80 entrants a half dozen blocks before the city had to reopen the avenue, a section of the longest federal highway in the U.S.

Eighty may seem like a small number until you realize that most entries comprised multiple vehicles, horses, or marchers. At least 500 persons or animals were on parade. As usual, being a rodeo parade, horses - groomed and costumed to perfection – were main attractions, especially those ridden by rodeo royalty.

The 2024 Sisters Rodeo queen, Destiny Wecks, was in full majesty. Queens from a dozen regional rodeos performed their ceremonial duties with grace and beauty. On the sidewalks, often three-deep with onlookers, little girls stared in wide-eyed fascination.

"I'm going to be one of them when I get bigger," said five year-old Maddy Armstrong, visiting her grandparents as she waved tirelessly to the passing nobility.

The mood, like the weather, was bright. It was a festive gathering consisting of hundreds of families, many inter-generational. Spectators came from at least five states, like the Paul Bingham family of nine, ages three to 68, from Portland, lined up in front of Sno-Cap.

"No way we miss the parade. This is a way of life all but disappearing in so many places. We are so grateful that Sisters is preserving this tradition," Bingham said.

Up and down Cascade Avenue it was all the same, flush with accolades for the slice of Americana.

The Peytons, all seven of them from Redmond, typified the enthusiasm and appreciation for the event now in its 84th year.

"We've been coming the last 10 years or so," mom Randi said. "In our household we go shopping for back to school, Halloween, Easter, and the rodeo parade," she explained, pointing out the family's matching head to toe western wear.

Indeed, on Saturday every other person was a cowboy or cowgirl in appearance.

"You gotta get your rodeo on," Marla Standish of Seattle said.

Her extended family of eight all agreed, twirling and posing to make the point.

As with most such parades, a place of honor was reserved for the Grand Marshals, Ernest and Alinda Dunn who rode down Cascade in a vintage carriage drawn by two draft horses in polished harness. This year's parade featured not one but two authentic stage coaches, clearly crowd favorites.

On the opposite end of the spectrum were dozens of modern, some high tech, trucks by entrants like Oregon State Police, the Forest Service, and Cloverdale Fire District.

Music was aplenty including the Sisters High School band and a drum and bagpipe duo in Celtic regalia.

It was a patriotic affair, with a youth color guard and several veterans groups, some handing out small U.S. flags.

"This was the most prepared and disciplined parade I've seen, and I've been to about 20," Colleen Hardisty from Bend assessed. "No stragglers, no breakaways. They all knew just what to do."

Entrants were encouraged not to throw candy and other treats to the crowd as both a safety issue, and a potential litter matter, but that was widely ignored and kids scrambled to stuff their pockets with goodies.

City crews received praise for shutting down, rerouting, and reopening a highway that sees 10,000 cars per day travel through downtown Sisters - all in the period of an hour.

Downtown merchants could not be more delighted particularly those selling coffee and sweets. A good number of parade watchers remained downtown and strolled the business core reminiscing. Out of town visitors were seen chatting vivaciously with locals, seeking out dining and shopping advice.

The parade route was dotted with dogs, and a sizable number of folks came by bike, as parking was scarce.

"I can't recall the last time I had so much fun," said Tumalo resident, Sue Ryan. "Just watching everybody having such a good time is good for my soul."

 

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