PENDLETON — The entire city of Pendleton comes alive during Round-Up week, but the days leading into it is when much of the work is done.
According to Round-Up President Dave O’Neill, Friday was filled with concessions vendors setting up in the stadium, prepping the 1910 Room, and testing the video and sound systems.
“We’re right on target,” he said.
In the following days, O’Neill said they are expecting “anywhere from 50-60,000” people to stream into the city.
But outside the stadium grounds, vendors hoping to capitalize on the world-famous event have already made the trek across the country and are propping up tents around the venue.
Sharon and Buzz Woods drove for three days from their home in Missouri to begin setting up their booth in the parking lot across from Roy Raley Park on Wednesday.
“These are our people,” Sharon said Friday morning.
Over the last eight years, Sharon and her husband traveled around to some of the country’s largest rodeos and western events selling items as Woods Trading Company. Their inventory consists of western decor, furnishings, hats and more. Sharon crafts many of them herself.
“I work eight days a week,” she said, laughing and pointing out that many vendors purchase and have their products shipped to them for events like Round-Up. “I have to go to my sewing machine. The factory is at home.”
In 2016, the Woods came to Pendleton for the first time and experienced the week as visitors. While enjoying the atmosphere, they also staked out a spot they thought would be perfect for a booth of their own.
And then a year ago, the couple returned as vendors for a successful week of selling Sharon’s work and making new friends in the area. As they fashioned this year’s inventory around their booth on Friday to open for business on Saturday, Sharon said she’s excited for the days to come.
“Once I’m prepared, it could go on for a month. I’m good,” she said, smiling.
Julie Bennett is making her first appearance as a vendor at Round-Up and made the trip from Austin, Texas, earlier this month. Originally from Redmond, Bennett said she’s spent the last month with her family in Bend.
Owner of Yipiokya, Bennett has been selling “upcycled and restyled” clothes that she restores from vintage cowboy shirts, patches and jackets for the last 27 years.
While she’s sold at bigger rodeos like the Cheyenne Frontier Days, Bennett said her “funky” style lets her cross over into junk shows too.
After beginning her setup yesterday, Bennett got going by 6:30 a.m. on Friday so that she’ll be ready to sell on Saturday too.
While preparations continue in the lot across from Roy Raley Park to open up on Saturday, the neighboring lot of the Speakeasy Salon and Spa will start its own in the coming days so it’s ready to go for Tuesday of next week.
Katie Jones, who owns the salon and spa, said Portland’s Traveling Taphouse will be setting up in the lot next week.
“It gets huge,” she said.
The taphouse will have 24 beers on tap along with top shelf liquor. Though the lot will feature a large beer garden and a mechanical bull, Jones said the zone will be kid friendly as well.
But while the salon and spa itself are just a leisurely walk from Round-Up Stadium, it’s also difficult to reap the benefits of thousands of visitors in the area.
“The problem is we’re booked out like six months in advance,” Jones said.
However, for a few special guests — such as the wives of the professional rodeo contestants that flock to Pendleton — Jones said they’ll “squeeze them in” for quick appointments like curling their hair.
Located within the Speakeasy Salon, Sweet Irene’s Coffee takes complete advantage of the increased foot traffic in the area.
“It is by far my best week of the entire year,” owner and barista Heidi Thompson said.
Thompson has had her location for the past two and a half years and each Round-Up she said it’s just gotten busier and busier. While it does disrupt some of her usual customers — Thompson said she closes down the drive-thru window during the week — she tries to accommodate them as best she can with a coffee bar outside the shop.
But as the week wears on, it just gets harder.
“On Friday this place turns upside down,” she said, laughing.
Earlier this week, Thompson went through her inventory and realized she wasn’t going to have enough product for Round-Up. With her coffee distributor based in Tennessee, she placed an overnight order just to be prepared.
In general, the surrounding areas of Round-Up Stadium provide plenty of excitement for the thousands of people ready to descend on the city next week.
“It’s just a good, fun place to be,” Jones said.