This weekend’s rodeo offers a front-row seat to how the West won its name: the whiskey, the dirt, big belt buckles, snorting bulls and bucking broncos. Stagecoaches and horse-riding royalty will awe children on Main Street. At night, men and women will rope, ride and hang on for dear life in contests of the best.
Events start at 6:49 tonight with the Extreme Bulls contest. One by one, 40 cowboys will mount ornery, 1,000-pound bulls in a chute. When the gate swings open, the music blasts and the bull starts bucking. The rider, gripping with only one hand, hopes to stay on long enough to walk away with the day’s big money.
The livestock at the rodeo are also big stars. They’re bred with their job in mind, says Wade Sankey, the primary stock contractor for the Lewiston Roundup and owner of New West Rodeo Productions in Montana.
“You can’t teach an animal to buck,” says Sankey, who oversees all the rodeo’s livestock — from the roping calves to the bulls and race horses. All horses run fast but not all racing horses make it to the Kentucky Derby, he says. The same goes for bucking.
“This is the Kentucky Derby of bucking horses,” Sankey says.
Watch for Broadway, a horse that has been to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas 14 times, “maybe one of the best bareback horses that has ever lived,” Sankey says.
Bulls often weigh in at more than 1,000 pounds. Coming to Lewiston this year is Titanium, one of the biggest bulls Sankey says he’s ever seen in a rodeo.
“The horses and bulls love their job,” Sankey says. “Anyone that knows anything about livestock can tell you that. We make our living off of them and they’re not just tools to us. They’re our livelihood. They’re pretty special to us.”
It can be nearly heart-stopping to watch a man be thrown and nearly trampled by a bull as big as a car. It also makes people thirsty. The most popular drink at the Lewiston Roundup is the Dirty Cowboy, says Mike Moser, chairman of the saloon and the Ketch Pen where people meet for drinks during the Roundup.
A Dirty Cowboy is Pendleton Whisky and Rootbeer Schnapps. People started asking for it about two or three years ago, Moser says.
Another version is the Dirty Cowgirl: Pendleton and Monarch Butterscotch.
The Dirty Cowboy’s popularity is tied to the Lewiston Roundup being a Pendleton Whisky-sponsored event. The brand is tied to rodeo. Its bottles feature the 101-year-old Pendleton Round-Up “Let ’er Buck” slogan and a portion of its proceeds go back to the Oregon event. This year, 250 bottles of Pendleton have been ordered for the Lewiston Roundup, Moser says. That doesn’t count those ordered for the Friday and Saturday night dances.
The Troy, Mont.-based band Copper Mountain will headline the Friday and Saturday night dances that start when the rodeo performances end and go until about 1:30 a.m. The dance is on a sawdust floor at the Roundup grounds’ indoor arena. The band features lead vocalist Jacque Jole singing high-energy, mainstream, country music. The group opened for Sawyer Brown earlier this summer. Admission is $5.
The Roundup Parade, starting at 9:59 a.m. Saturday, is Lewiston’s biggest parade of the year. It starts at the western end of Main Street downtown and features marching bands, rodeo royalty from around the Northwest, horses and floats. Kids can collect enough candy to rival Halloween.
Friday and Saturday evening performances start at 7:29 p.m. and Sunday’s family day gets under way at 1:29 p.m. at the Lewiston Roundup Grounds. Western wear and cowboy boots are the attire. A rodeo is a dusty place and those sitting up front will get dirt clods kicked into their curly fries, but they’ll have the best seat for discovering why the Lewiston Roundup’s motto is “She’s Wild.”
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What: 78th annual Lewiston Roundup
Where: Lewiston Roundup Grounds
Tonight — 6:59 p.m., Extreme Bulls; $20
Friday — 7:29 p.m., first performance, dance to follow
Saturday — 9:59 a.m., Roundup Parade, downtown Lewiston, free; 7:29 p.m., second performance; gates open at 5:29 p.m., dance to follow.
Sunday — 1:29 p.m., final performance and awards; gates open at 11:29 a.m.
Admission: Unless otherwise noted, rodeo prices are: box seats $23; reserved seats $20; general admission adult $15; GA youth $7; family pass $40; dance $5.