PENDLETON
Round-Up and Happy Canyon’s general manager announces retirement

Staff photo by Kathy AneyCasey Beard, first-ever general manager of Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon organizations, announced he will retire in May.

The Pendleton Round-Up’s first-ever general manager announced he will retire in May.

Casey Beard started managing the rodeo just after the organization’s second century kicked off. He was hired to oversee the Round-Up and Happy Canyon Night Pageant, along with other events such as Professional Bull Riding events and music concerts.

The pair of organizations have many moving parts. In 2014, the two boards decided that time had come for a general manager to oversee both organizations and tie them into a cohesive whole. At the time, Round-Up President Tim Hawkins called Beard “the right guy at the right time as we move into the next 100 years.”

Beard, an easy-going retired Army officer with master’s degrees in international business and strategic studies, got started. He brought with him lessons learned as director of grants at Blue Mountain Community College, management of his family’s rodeo livestock business and director of safety programs at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Beard’s ties with the rodeo go back decades longer than his stint as general manager. His grandfather raced stagecoaches at the Round-Up.

According to Round-Up President Dave O’Neill and Happy Canyon President Cory Neistadt, both organizations benefited from Beard’s nurturing.

“Casey has done a truly outstanding job as our first general manager,” O’Neill said. “Among the many important projects he helped spearhead were revitalizing our east-end facilities, including the 1910 Room and Section DD Bar, achieving record attendance and retail sales, improving relationships with the city, expanding our facilities, creating a vibrant social media presence and winning the PRCA Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year award three times.”

Beard also benefited Happy Canyon and the community, Neistadt said, smoothing the way for additional events, such as the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest, helping expand brand recognition through a strategic partnership with Travel Oregon, facilitating the Happy Canyon Court’s participation in the National Finals Rodeo’s Cowboy Christmas and lobbying for Happy Canyon’s iconic paint horse, Chinook, to go to the National Finals Rodeo to stand solemnly during the national anthem (along with rider Bryson Bronson).

“What (Casey) has accomplished in his years with us has been amazing,” Neistadt said. “His contributions will be felt for years to come.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Beard sat in his office tucked under the north side grandstands and gave an easy-going grin. Two huge images flanked his desk. One showed a saddle bronc rider, freshly tossed to the dirt. In the other, a Happy Canyon princess rides a horse. Beard glanced around the room and said he’d miss the space and his day-to-day reality as general manager, but he’s ready for something different. He said the last almost five years flashed by at a dizzying speed.

“Going in, we had ideals and operational goals,” he said. “Things happened faster than we anticipated. Our six-month plan was obsolete by the end of the first month.”

He treasures the rodeo’s recognition as PRCA’s Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year and other milestones. He credited “a loyal, creative and dedicated staff.”

“It has been an honor to serve as he first general manager in the long, illustrious histories of these world famous events,” Beard said.

In the coming months, a search committee will select Beard’s replacement.

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Contact Kathy Aney at kaney@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0810.

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