Loyd Ketchum and Joe Baumgartner
Loyd Ketchum and Joe Baumgartner worked as bullfighters at the Round-Up and Professional Bull Riding events, sharing the arena many times during their years in Pendleton.
Ketchum, a Montana native, began his Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association career in 1987. With his slogan of “bullfighting with class and finesse,” he worked his first Pendleton Round-Up in 1991 and continued through 2011, with the exception of one year when he was injured. An agile athlete, known for great speed and quick maneuvering, he also worked the PBR from 1998-2008 in Pendleton. Ketchum was chosen to work the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from 1992-1996. Ketchum also won the Wrangler Bullfight World Championship in Las Vegas in 1991.
Retiring after 27 years as a bullfighter, Ketchum now owns and operates a hunting outfitting operation near Miles City, Montana. He continues to show his support of the PRCA and the rodeo world by traveling to rodeos, signing autographs and making appearances at schools and on television and radio.
Baumgartner, who grew up in California, began his rodeo career fighting bulls at age 16. Joe quickly came to be known throughout the rodeo community and went on to work 14 National Finals Rodeos and 18 PBR finals. He worked the Round-Up arena in Pendleton from 1990-2008 and the Happy Canyon arena PBR from 1998-2008. Baumgartner is known for his long arms and the ability to reach out and get to a bull’s head quickly, avoiding many risks to the cowboy and himself. This is part of what earned him the honor of PRCA’s Bullfighter of the Year from 2004-2007. Following his retirement from rodeo in 2011, Joe was selected to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2013. Baumgartner currently manages the South Point Casino’s Arena and Equestrian Events Center in Las Vegas.
Torricellas, born in the Eugene area in 1951, was likely inspired by his father Louie’s success in rodeo. The younger Torricellas competed on BMCC’s rodeo team in the early 1970s, and in 1972 he was National Intercollegiate Rodeo calf roping champion.
In subsequent years, he competed in Pendleton as a PRCA cowboy, winning his first Round-Up title in steer wrestling in 1975. He followed that accomplishment with additional steer wrestling titles in 1979, 1983 and 1994. He was the All-Around Champion in 1979. Numerous times, he placed in go-rounds and made the finals in both steer wrestling and calf roping. Torricellas was well-known throughout the rodeo world for his adventurousness and sense of humor, but mostly for his record of accomplishments in the arena.
Torricellas found success not only in the Columbia River Circuit, but on the national scene. He qualified for the Wrangler National Finals six times in steer wrestling and three times in calf roping. In 1980, he was Reserve Steer Wrestling World Champion, finishing less than $3,000 behind Butch Myers. Torricellas’ other titles include Cheyenne Frontier Days All-Around, Lewiston Round-Up All-Around, Chief Joseph Days Calf Roping Champion and Reno Rodeo Steer Wrestling Champion.
Ruth Fletcher’s forty-plus years of volunteer service for Happy Canyon began around 1940, while she was getting her children ready for their part in the covered wagon scene at the old location of Happy Canyon on Southeast Emigrant Avenue and Fourth Street. Show Director Walter Holt approached Fletcher and asked if she would help do makeup for the cast. For many years, Fletcher ran the makeup room by herself. Later, Fletcher expanded her assistance to Happy Canyon when she became the costume repair person, often taking costumes home after the show to repair them before the next night. This led to her next role as wardrobe keeper. During the off-season, Fletcher sewed new costumes and hunted for accessories.
Ruth’s family has been involved with the show from its inception. Her father-in-law played the first sheriff in 1914, a role later held by her husband R.A. (Bob) Fletcher. All of Fletcher’s children and grandchildren, and many of her great-grandchildren, have performed in the show. Family members served on the Happy Canyon Board of Directors as well.
Fletcher’s volunteerism in the community was not limited to Happy Canyon. As a longtime resident of the Ukiah area, she produced the Ukiah Rodeo and served as its president in the early 1930s. She was a 4-H leader, home extension teacher, Ukiah School Board member and member of the Heppner Rodeo court. She received the Happy Canyon Volunteer Appreciation Award for her many years of service in 1983. Her legacy continues with the involvement of family members.
Matt Duchek began his role as a Happy Canyon volunteer collecting evergreens for the scenery early in life. He later signed on as one of the original 10 bartenders when Happy Canyon began serving whiskey and helped engineer the first stage for the arena concerts.
Matt was elected to the Happy Canyon Board in 1994 and served as its president from 2002-2003. Among his many achievements are sanding and repainting all the stadium seats, establishing Wednesday night work parties, remodeling the back bar in the next-door Pendleton Convention Center, designing an elevated floor for the orchestra pit (which created forty-eight additional seats for PBR and the concerts), upgrading all walkways behind the scenery, and exchanging telephone poles and plywood for steel beams and sheet metal, providing easier maintenance.
Not only has Duchek donated his time and expertise, but most of these projects were enacted using his personal tools. Duchek has an estimated 2,500-plus volunteer hours invested in Wednesday night work parties alone.
Happy Canyon director Kelly Hawkins sums up Duchek’s dedication this way:
“From some nicks and cuts while working on projects, Matt Duchek literally does bleed Happy Canyon through and through,” Hawkins said.
Duchek also served on the Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame board, and as president from 2007-2009.