Name: Kaleigh Waggoner
Hometown: Pilot Rock
Currently living in: Pilot Rock
High school: Pendleton High School, graduated in 2016.
High school sports and activities: My freshman year I played basketball and softball, and my sophomore, junior, and senior years I ran varsity cross country and varsity track.
College: I am a junior majoring in agricultural sciences at Eastern Oregon University.
Current occupation and goals: As I grew up on a cattle ranch and was heavily involved in 4-H and FFA, my passion for agriculture is an important part of who I am, which is why I am pursuing a career as an agricultural education teacher.
Past Round-Up or Happy Canyon volunteer involvement: I began serving as a pennant bearer, continuing to ride in parades for 12 years. Additionally, I have worked in the East Souvenir Booth, the Round-Up Office and the Annual Work Party. My Round-Up week also involves participating in the Happy Canyon Night Show, in which I am a fifth generation actor. I have played a role in the pageant for 18 years, taking part in the Trunk Act, Street Scene, and Emigrant Scene.
Other rodeo or county fair involvement: I have participated in the Umatilla County Fair since I was 10. I have shown 4-H and FFA market and breeding sheep, and competed in cooking, sewing, baking, modeling, table settings, speeches and presentations. My grandfather, Robin Fletcher, was a fair board member in 1975, and I was a princess in 2015.
Community or volunteer experiences: I have volunteered at my church’s Sunday school and nursery, elementary school carnivals, community clean-ups, PAWS, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, cross country and track fundraisers, Altrusa Christmas Bazaars, Daddy Daughter Dances and Coats for Kids. I have been a student tutor, and helped at school conferences, with Round-Up City Racers, Outdoor School and putting on Food for All through our FFA program. Through these volunteer experiences, I have learned the value of giving and how important it is to put others before oneself.
Parents: Allen and Becky Waggoner. My dad has been a Round-Up volunteer for over 18 years, was a Happy Canyon board member and president in 2009-10, and has also participated in the show. My mom has been a Round-Up and Happy Canyon volunteer most of her life, and currently serves on the Happy Canyon board.
Family involvement in Round-Up or Happy Canyon: My great-great-grandfather, R.W. Fletcher, volunteered at the first Round-Up and started the Mounted Cowboy Band in 1910. My great-grandfather, R.A. Fletcher, served Round-Up his whole life. My grandfather, Robin Fletcher, was a volunteer for over 60 years and was on the board in the 1980s. R.W. Fletcher, R.A. Fletcher, and Robin Fletcher were all inducted in the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. This year, my great-grandmother, Ruth Fletcher, is being inducted.
Favorite rodeo (other than Round-Up): Chief Joseph Days Rodeo. I really enjoy the authentic feel of the rodeo and the beauty of Joseph. Also, I have the opportunity to support hometown cowboys and cowgirls, and cheer for contestants that I know.
Favorite Round-Up tradition: The unique Grand Entry: the national anthem resounding across the arena, the flag bearers with their beautiful flags waving in the wind, queens and princesses jumping and flying across the arena, and jets roaring through the grandstands. I can’t wait to have the honor of continuing the tradition. Also, I love the bell that is used to signify a new event during the rodeo. It’s like hearing a piece of history and I get a thrill every time that bell is used.
History with horses: I had the privilege of growing up on a cattle ranch and fell in love with horses as a little girl. The horses I have the honor of riding are Cody, Sanjo and Casey. Cody is an 8-year-old sorrel gelding. I have been using him in parades and can’t wait to use him as one of my Grand Entry horses. Sanjo is a 12-year-old sorrel gelding owned by Dave and Jodi Thackeray, and he has been used in the Grand Entry countless times before this year. Casey is an 18-year-old bay gelding owned by Pepper White and has been used as a Grand Entry horse by past royalty.
Why did you want to be on the court: To represent and be an ambassador for our rodeo, our community and our history. My family has been serving the Pendleton Round-Up for five generations, and I also viewed this opportunity as a privilege to represent my family’s history and legacy.
Best part of the court experience: It has been such a dream come true! One of my favorite things is all the laughs and funny memories we share as a court. We always have such an amazing time and make such beautiful memories together. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to experience this year with.
Favorite memory of Round-Up: As a pennant bearer during the 2010 centennial year of the Round-Up, I was invited into the serpentine in the Round-Up Arena after the Westward Ho! Parade. It was humbling and overwhelming as I walked into the arena and stood with 100 American flags, the Mounted Cowboy Band and numerous other riders. Our rodeo is local history, preserved by thousands of volunteers who have gone before me and thousands more that will continue to serve after me.