HERMISTON — It’s not even May yet but the high school rodeo season is ready to blast out of the chutes in Hermiston this weekend.
The Intermountain Rodeo Team will host a doubleheader rodeo at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds beginning today and running through Sunday evening. More than 150 competitors from around the state will descend on Hermiston, representing myriad high school programs. The rodeo starts at 10 a.m. today with the boys and girls cow cutting before the first full performance gets under way at 6 p.m.
The Intermountain Rodeo Team — a collective of 27 students from across Umatilla County and parts of Morrow County — boasts representatives from Hermiston, Pendleton, Weston-McEwen, Stanfield, Pilot Rock and Heppner.
It’ll be a busy couple days for the competitors, Pedersen said, but the scheduling allows for double the action with only one long drive for some entrants hailing from the state’s western half.
“The rodeos are almost mirror images of each other, but theoretically, some kids could be up Saturday afternoon and Saturday night and have done two full rodeos,” said Pedersen, who advises the team with Maureen Crossley.
The Intermountain Rodeo marks the second time the local team has competed this spring after four rodeos in the fall. The riders and ropers traveled to Eugene for a three-day event in late February.
Despite the Eugene High School Rodeo breaking a several-month long rodeo hiatus, Pedersen said his kids hadn’t missed a step from where they left off in 2011.
“The weather plays into a portion of that,” he said. “We were fortunate enough that this winter, it was a little cold but also dry so we could get out and practice and rope and ride.”
Following the action in Hermiston this weekend, the Intermountain cowboys and cowgirls will next head to Powell Butte near Redmond in two weeks for the Tri-County Rodeo hosted by the team from Prineville.
Prineville is also the home of the Oregon high school rodeo finals in June.
Tickets to the Intermountain Rodeo can be purchased at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds gate. Admission is $5 for a single session or $15 for the four-performance bundle. Seniors and children under 12 years old may enter for free.