The Helix Heart of the Country Rodeo is not a misnomer.

From the northern stands of Quantum 9 Arena, endless wheat fields provide a backdrop for Saturday’s show.

Since 2000, hundreds of people have converged on one of Oregon’s smallest towns to watch cowboys ride broncs, rope calves and compete in other traditional rodeo activities.

Despite the usual rodeo dazzle, Helix Rodeo Board President Jarod Campbell said the Helix Rodeo separates itself from other rodeos in the region by remaining a community fundraiser at its core.

Over the past 11 years, the rodeo board has granted $54,000 in scholarships to Griswold High School students.

Those 39 students have attended 17 different colleges and universities across the country, with each student’s scholarship averaging more than $1,000. This year’s winners will be announced at Griswold’s commencement ceremony.

The Helix Rodeo also has contributed to the school district’s athletic program, the local Future Farmers of America chapter and an effort to re-sod Helix Park’s picnic grounds.

Additionally, two of the food vendors were using proceeds to fund student trips to Washington, D.C., and Europe.

While everything went as planned on Saturday, the professionalism of the event belied the rodeo’s humble roots.

The Helix Rodeo’s first year didn’t take place in Quantum 9 arena, which hadn’t been built yet. Instead, organizers held the rodeo in a former wheat field with no rodeo court and borrowed equipment from as far as Milton-Freewater.

Despite heavy rains throughout the day, the rodeo was successful enough to not only allow future rodeos but a permanent arena.

To fit all the rodeo competition in one afternoon, the event program is much smaller.

Rodeo announcer Marty Campbell said Helix Rodeo audiences won’t see rodeo competitions like team calf roping or an all-around event.

Marty Campbell has announced the past three Helix rodeos, taking over for his brother Tygh, who had announced the previous nine.

Despite the short program, the Cayuse resident said he still likes announcing a show in his neck of the woods.

Throughout the afternoon, the rodeo provided highlights like a five-minute-long stand-off between wranglers and a stubborn bull that refused to leave the arena and a bull riding win from Adams native Cain Smith.

Jarod Campbell said the rodeo board has increased their focus on youth activities in recent years.

Besides barrel racing being a 12-and-under competition, this year’s event also featured a bounce house and a stick horse barrel race, with children from two to six years old scurrying across a small barrel course with the assistance of a stick horse and a member of the Happy Canyon or Round-Up courts.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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