The 65th annual Paulina Amateur Rodeo gears up to start this weekend

Photo Credit: LON AUSTIN - Bull riding is always a popular event at the Paulina Rodeo, held annually on Labor Day Weekend.

“There are several moments that come to mind,” said Wanda Schnabele recently while reminiscing about the upcoming Paulina Rodeo. “Like when my father-in-law was the old-timer, or when my grandson roped there for the first time with his grandfather, or when my two daughters roped together.”

Schnabele is not alone in having memories of the rodeo. Ask anyone from Paulina and you will probably get similar memories. The event, which started on the Fourth of July in 1950, moved to Labor Day weekend years ago and is now gearing up for its 65th annual run.

The rodeo has become a unique event, not only in Central Oregon, but the brand of rodeo you will see if you make the trek to Paulina this weekend is becoming rare no matter where you go.

To put it simply, the rodeo is a family affair. Run entirely with local, volunteer help, the rodeo is all about family.

“One of the reasons we are different is that we are an amateur rodeo, and there aren’t very many of those anymore,” Schnabele said. “We don’t require membership or card holders and our rodeo club that puts it on is all volunteer. I’m sure that many of the guys that are down there now, their dads helped start it and put it on. I know that my husband’s dad did.”

Volunteers have been working on the arena, getting things ready for this year’s rodeo, for weeks now.

“There’s not many family ranches left out here, that’s the sad thing about it,” Rodeo Club President Rob McLain said. “But we’ve got some young people coming on and they still have the people that work for some of the ranches kick in and help. So, hopefully, they will continue the tradition.”

By Tuesday afternoon, participants and interested onlookers will have started staking their claim to a parking space at the arena, where they will camp out until after the rodeo is done late Sunday afternoon. By Saturday morning, scores of locals will have backed their pickups up to the far side of the arena, where they can sit in lawn chairs in the pickup beds watching the rodeo from a front row seat.

And what an event it is. The rodeo literally has something for every rodeo fan. Besides the usual seven rodeo events (bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and barrel racing), the rodeo also has a number of unusual, or at least less common, events.

The rodeo also has a ranch bronc riding competition, similar to saddle bronc riding, but which allows riders to hold on with both hands. It often sees riders in costume. There will also be breakaway roping, common at high school rodeos, but rare at other events. Also included is a wild cow milking competition. For kids, there is steer riding, calf riding, sheep riding, a kid’s barrel racing event, and an animal scramble where a throng of kids attempt to take ribbons off of a calf.

The event, which kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday, starts at 9 a.m. Friday with the annual Friday Fun Day, which has even more cowboy- and cowgirl-related events.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with kids gaming, including a flag race, figure 8, keyhole, barrel bending and an egg on a spoon race. Adults can get into the action starting at noon with the ranch cutting competition, which includes open and kid’s classes. The afternoon continues with ranch stock horse competitions including bridle and snaffle bit events. Friday evening will likely see team ropers in the Paulina Arena until late into the evening.

The actual rodeo has performances both Saturday and Sunday with action beginning at 12:30 p.m. each day. Following Saturday’s performance there will also be a barbecue, rodeo dance, and a rodeo scholarship raffle.

Sunday dawns with the annual Buckaroo Breakfast with food being served from 7 a.m. to noon.

Although the rodeo is a celebration, this year’s event will begin on a somewhat somber note. This year’s rodeo old-timer recently unexpectedly passed away, as did long-time volunteer and former old-timer Carl Weaver. Also, this year’s rodeo will include a tribute to Jordan Dunaway-Haines, a recent Crook County High School graduate, who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident this year.

“We lost our old-timer, who was such an important part of the community,” McLain said. “And Jordan’s family bought a buckle that we re going to use for the bull riding as a memorial. They are going to give that out and that will be kind of a special deal.”

Still, the show will go on, and it will be a celebration of life.

“On Friday we will have a bunch of younger kids stuff, and then it’s such a great rodeo for kids,” Schnabele said. “Like I said, we have grandparents roping with grandkids. It’s just a good time and a good get together for the end of the summer. I think everybody looks forward to it.”

Paulina Rodeo

Admission: $8 for adults, $4 for 12 and under.

Friday schedule of events (no admission charge) -- 9 a.m. Kids gaming. Noon Ranch Cutting Competition (open and kid’s class). 1:30 p.m. Ranch Stock Horse competition including bridle horse, kid’s classes and snaffle bit.

Saturday schedule of events -- 12:30 p.m. rodeo performance begins at Paulina Rodeo Grounds. Events include calf riding (ages 8 to 12), kids barrel racing (9 and under), sheep riding (age 7 and under), animal scramble (age 8 and under), plus all regularly scheduled rodeo events. Jackpot team roping following performance as well as barbecue ($7 for adults, $4 for ages 12 and under) Rodeo dance to follow Saturday evening at the Paulina Community Hall.

Sunday schedule -- Buckaroo Breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. Rodeo performance begins at 12:30 p.m. Events include sheep riding (age 7 and under), animal scramble (ages 9 to 12), steer riding (ages 12-15), kids barrel racing (ages 10-14), plus all regular rodeo events.

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