JOSEPH – It’s that time of year, again.
A small Oregon town will once again transform into a center of top rodeo action where well-known cowboys and cowgirls put it all on the line. The six-day event begins Tuesday with the bucking horse stampede kicking off the 74th Annual Chief Joseph Days.
“It is a tradition, and we have heard from people from Boise, Spokane, Lewiston, Portland, and they have been coming to this for 30 years because this is what their family does,” said Stacy Green, who helps promote the rodeo. “For people that are close, it is a big reunion because you know that you are going to see everybody. It is a big social gathering.”
The town, with a population of little more than 1,000 people, is said to swell to more than 10,000 for the rodeo that is always held the last full week of July.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo begins Wednesday afternoon, with slack at 2 p.m. before the main action gets started at 7 p.m. on family night. The same schedule is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with rodeo slack on Saturday beginning at 2:30 p.m. Thursday is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink Day” to support cancer screening.
The rodeo has earned a host of recognition over the years, including a place on the list of top-10 rodeos to attend. It is a rodeo that dates back to 1946, with the rodeo action taking place in the Harley Tucker Memorial Arena.
Cowboys and cowgirls will take part in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer roping and bull riding. Not surprisingly, it is the bull riding that draws the largest crowd on the final night of the event.
“We have top cowboys competing and some of those are world ranked,” Green said. “They love the intimacy of Chief Joseph Days because fans are right there by the action, and Joseph is small and makes it easy to get around.”
General admission tickets Wednesday and Thursday are $15, but are $17 on Friday and Saturday. Reserved tickets on Friday and Saturday are $20.
The PRCA rodeo is the biggest draw, but Chief Joseph Days also hosts the Little Buckaroo Rodeo for special needs children and adults at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at the Harley Tucker Rodeo Grounds. It features multiple events, including goat tail untying, stick horse barrel racing, and a bouncing horse race.
There are plenty of other activities throughout the six days outside of the rodeo that range from dances to an all-night cowboy breakfast.