PENDLETON - A new rich red woolen robe featuring a silhouette of the Pendleton Round-Up's famous bucking bronc logo went on sale today at the souvenir booth on the Round-Up Grounds.
The Pendleton Woolen Mills and the Pendleton Round-Up Association teamed up to produce the standard-sized 64-inch by 80-inch blankets. Just 200 were produced in the first weaving and about 120 are left, according to Bob Hulden, Round-Up secretary-treasurer and office director. They sell for $175, with proceeds going to the Round-Up Association.s
The blanket are not numbered, but the boxes in which they're packaged are.
Bands at the top and bottom of the blanket feature a rope border, bands of colors reminiscent of the Round-Up's wooden bucking chutes and rows of teepees representing the American Indians' influence on the Round-Up.
The first weaving included a suede "Let 'er Buck" patch in the lower right corner alongside the traditional blue and yellow Pendleton Woolen Mills tag. Hulden said more Round-Up blankets will be woven, but the suede patch will be changed in subsequent weavings. The price is expected to remain the same, however.
"We expect demand to continue for a long time," Hulden said.
Terry Widel, the plant's weave room manager, said he pitched the idea for the blanket to Round-Up Director Randy Severe four or five months ago while he was squiring the Round-Up Court around for a calendar-signing session. Once the Round-Up Association approved the idea, Pendleton Woolen Mills' corporate designers developed the pattern and weaving began.
"The effort and the support that came from the Woolen Mills was just phenomenal," Hulden said.
John Boston, plant manager, said the yarn for the Pendleton Round-Up blanket was dyed at the company's Washougal, Wash., plant, then carded and spun in Pendleton. The blankets were woven in Pendleton and finished in Washougal.
"I haven't heard a single comment except, 'Wow, I want one,'" Boston said, referring to plant employees' reactions to the new product. That's an exceptional reaction, he said, because plant workers see thousands of blanket designs.
"I even took the sample one home to show it to my wife, I was so excited," Widel said.
Hulden said Woolen Mills' employees who wanted a Round-Up blanket were among the first to be able to purchase them.
Widel said when he began at the Pendleton Woolen Mills about 20 years ago, the company introduced about one new blanket design each year. With today's digital technology, he said, the company introduces new designs daily.