Rocking back and forth on a hand-controlled bull, Isaac Burden of Echo smiled and waved to the Pendleton Round-Up crowd.
And the crowd went wild, chanting, “Isaac! Isaac! Isaac!”
About 160 of his kindergarten through fifth grade classmates made the trip from Echo to cheer him on during the 2016 Children’s Rodeo.
For a full hour on Thursday morning before the second day of the Pendleton Round-Up, 50 children experienced the jubilation that comes with being a real-life cowboy or cowgirl.
Children 5-12 with varying special needs traveled from across northeastern Oregon to participate in the 32nd annual rodeo. Events included bull riding, steer roping, barrel racing on stick horses, and a new addition to last year’s rodeo — Frank Rendon’s “Legendary Longhorns” from Sweet Home, where the kids sat atop Shot Gun and Show Gun and got their picture taken.
“They get to do things they normally wouldn’t,” said Children’s Rodeo director Karen Parker, who works with InterMountain Education Service District to organize the event.
Kids didn’t appear to have a consensus favorite event, though some gravitated towards a certain one, like Burden with the bull riding.
April Johns, who stuck with Burden throughout the rodeo for the second straight year, said there is no greater experience these kids get than the Children’s Rodeo.
In addition to kids’ families, students from Echo, Cove and Ione also came to cheer on the rodeo participants.
Elsewhere, rodeo announcer Marty Campbell bounced around the events talking to kids, cowboys and volunteers about their experience, hoping to add more color to the rodeo for people watching from the stands.
“Just trying to relay everything going on out here to those kids up there, their parents and their families,” Campbell said. “We try to make it feel like these kids are competing at the Pendleton Round-Up.”
The 2017 Children’s Rodeo is at the Round-Up Grounds on Sept. 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Round-Up website states that there is no admission charge, except “your enthusiasm and excitement.”