As the gorgeous rodeo cowgirls circle the arena at full gallop, blonde hair and flags flying in the wind, the National Anthem blares over the PA systems. Cowboys, young and old, hold their cowboy hats in front of their chests and young mothers with babes in their arms sing along. It is a hot June day in the central Oregon cascade mountain range of small town Americana, otherwise known as Sisters, Oregon.
Trucks and horse trailers line the dusty grass parking lot for several days of a rodeo horseback riding vacation. Booths hawking ice cold beer, pepsi and t-shirts with “Cowboy Up!” line the entrance to the Sisters Rodeo grounds. We find our way to our seats in the bleechers, carefully stepping over cowboy boots and brushing past shiny silver belt buckles attached to buckskin belts, holding up every brand of denim jean imaginable.
This is cowboy country. Where the smell of sun block mingles with the scent of horse manure in the faint summer breeze.
ProRodeo – A Kinder, Safer Rodeo?
If your memories of ProRodeo evoke wild-eyed bulls, bucking broncos and clowns running in to save cowboys from first-hand encounters with the tip of a brahma bull horn, you won’t be disappointed. However, times have changed for the better at rodeos. While I wouldn’t call this a horseback riding vacation, bronc and bull riders now wear flak jackets and helmets to protect them from serious injury. These top caliber athletes wouldn’t be able to win money if they didn’t value their animals and insure that their livestock was in peak condition. Personally, I feel better knowing that the rodeo contestants and judges abide by a code of humane treatment of animals.
Biggest Little Show
Billed as the Biggest Little Show in the World, the 71st Annual Sisters Rodeo takes place June 10, 11 and 12, 2011. Back in the day, I used to show horses at the Junior Grand National Horse Show held at the Cow Palace outside of San Francisco, California. And while I wasn’t a bareback bronc rider, this wasn’t my first rodeo experience. However, it was my family’s first time to the rodeo.
We stayed at the pet-friendly Five Pine Lodge during our horseback riding vacation in Sisters, Oregon. Families with young children might consider a stay at the Best Western Ponderosa. You’ve got to stop and feed the llamas!
What are your favorite things to do in Sisters, Oregon?
Photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown
If You Go: