Owning stock in the Pendleton Round-Up has had fluid definitions since it was established in advance of the inaugural rodeo more than a century ago. What began as a fundraiser has evolved into an opportunity for the layman to play a role in the Round-Up’s decision making process.
The stockholders flexed their authority Tuesday, where they not only offered an alternative candidate to the Round-Up Board of Directors’ pick for president, they nearly got him elected.
According to “Round-Up at 100: Oregon’s Legendary Rodeo,” the Northwestern Frontier Celebration Association, the precursor to the Round-Up Association, originally issued $5,000 in stock at $10 per share in 1910 to cover the rodeo’s $2,860 budget.
With the Round-Up’s budget now in seven-figure territory and the shares still $10, the modern-day stocks are used for a seat at the table during the Round-Up’s annual stockholder meeting rather than a fundraising tactic.
Besides an opportunity for the board to share information on the association’s financial status and the future of the rodeo, the stockholder meeting gives the Round-Up’s most dedicated volunteers and fans a chance to ratify the president of the board.
While the other 16 positions on the board are decided in private among the board members, the president needs to be approved by the stockholders before they can take their seat. It’s usually a perfunctory process — the stockholders ratify the board’s pick for president by voice vote — but the 2017 meeting saw a group of stockholders nominate former director Carl Culham to run against former director Dave O’Neill, the board’s choice. O’Neill ultimately won the presidency by 12 votes.
Although there were 444 invitations sent out for Tuesday’s stockholder meeting, Publicity Director Randy Thomas said it’s difficult to ascertain the exact number of stockholders because the association hasn’t confirmed what some deceased members have done with their stocks.
Like other types of stocks, Round-Up shares can be bequeathed in a will or transfer owners. If a stockholder can’t make a meeting, they can assign another person to act as their representative and vote by proxy. All told, 226 ballots were cast in Tuesday’s election.
While there are literally hundreds of stockholders, becoming one isn’t an easy task.
Thomas said there are 10 shares offered each year, but a person applying for stock would have to contend with a waiting list that includes more than 100 people. And even if a person waits their way into the top 10, it’s not a guarantee that they’ll become a stockholder.
If a new director isn’t already a stockholder by the time they are elected to the board, they will automatically be awarded stock over the other people on the waiting list.
New members or not, all stockholders will get a chance to provide input on the Round-Up again sooner than expected. While the board shared the Round-Up’s 2015 and 2016 financial statements, the 2017 statement will be released to stockholders at a special February meeting.