Umatilla County, Oregon 1922
The splendid pageantry of the Old West passing in colorful review at the Pendleton Round-up
There are round-ups and round-ups, but there is only one Round-Up. It is staged each September in Pendleton, the "biggest little city in the world," where cowboys, cowgirls, Indians and plainsmen gather under the bright blue skies of early Autumn to enact a drama vivid with the spirit of the Old West.
It is a living, pulsating, outdoor play, where wild steers, bucking broncs and race horses vie with human performers in winning the applause of 25,000 spectators who pack grandstands, boxes and bleachers for the three-day show. Indians, in the buckskin, beads, feathers, furs and war paint of by-gone days, and cowgirls in the brilliant shirts, woolly chaps and broad-brimmed sombreros of the early frontier mingle with staid citizens who, catching the Round-Up spirit, discard the drab attire of every-day life for cartwheel Stetsons, and shirts and neckerchiefs as rainbow-tinted as those worn by the yip-yipping cowboys. The Eastern visitor rubs elbows with the Westerner, and the two are made pals by the magic shibboleth of "Let 'er Buck."
The Round-Up has been called the Passion Play of the West, depicting the very life and soul of range and plain in the events of track and arena. From the cowboys' pony race to the wild horse race, event follows event in quick succession, with a dash and spirit that keeps the spectator at the highest pitch of excitement.
Following the pony race comes the squaw race, then the stagecoach race, Indian race, steer bulldogging, steer roping, pony express race, cowgirls' bucking contest, Indian war bonnet race, quick-change race, cowgirls' relay race, Indian pony relay race, cowboys' standing race, cowboys' bucking con test, cowboys' relay race and the wild horse race.
For all events there are cash and merchandise prizes, but for the world championship events, including the cowgirls' and cowboys' relay, the steer bulldogging and steer roping, pony express race, and cowboys' bucking contest are reserved the additional trophies most coveted by these sons and daughters of the range. Resplendent in hand-carved russet leather and silver trappings, the prize saddles are awarded in the, bucking contests and steer roping, while to the all-round cowboy champion goes the Police Gazette belt with its gold engraved buckle.
Umatilla County Wheat Farms involve the use of large outfits.
The above crew harrowed, seeded and bladed eight hundred and fifty acres in five and one-half days.
It is not alone "Yak" Canutt, Hugh Strickland and Ray Bell, famous championship riders, who can stay atop the hurricane deck of a twisting, writhing bronc. Slender cowgirls, the majority of them less than five feet tall, ride in the cowgirls' bucking contest and prove their mastery of outlaw horses like Blue Blazes, Rawlins Kid, Clearwater and Satan.
For the Indian parade, which is a daily feature, the pages of time are turned backward to the days when the redmen, untrammeled by law and convention, roamed the broad hills of the West. War chiefs and braves, in gorgeous and colorful habiliments, ride with squaws splendid in brilliant shawls and beadwork. Tiny Indian babies, safe in wooden cradles strapped to their mothers' backs, blink in the sunlight as the magnificent panoply passes the grandstand. Many of the bucks, dressed as warriors, are naked save for breech cloth and beads, and their red-bronze flesh gleams with war paint of red, blue and yellow. These "first Americans" people, during the three days' show an Indian village on the Round-Up grounds. They eat and sleep in their tepees and the smoke from their campfires curls over track and arena. For the annual Westward-Ho parade, which is a Saturday morning feature, the tribes, from century-old grandmothers to month-old papooses, ride in all their splendor through Pendleton's streets.
The Round-Up is not a commercial show, but a vast community enterprise, sponsored by all of Pendleton's citizens. In 1910, the idea originated with a few of the local men, and from this first show grew the great modern presentation of today. The area is now enclosed by a quarter mile track, almost entirely surrounded by grandstand and bleachers, the total seating capacity being the greatest west of the Mississippi.
It is, first, last and all the time, Pendleton's own show, staged by the Pendleton Round-Up Association, made up of prominent citizens, who serve without salaries. The Round-Up pays no dividends, all profits being devoted to prizes for contestants and improvement of the Round-Up grounds.
Added to these are scores of Pendleton and Umatilla County men who devote countless hours of time toward making the show a success. It is they who, behind the scenes, aid in winning for the Round-Up a reputation for pauseless tbrill; they who for weeks before the show assist in bringing to the Round-Up stables livestock for track and arena. Many of the performers who win honors in the lists claim Pendleton as their home. To welcome the thousands of visitors, Pendleton homes are thrown open so that all guests may be cared for.
Nor is the entertainment for the evening hours forgotten. "Happy Canyon, the Town That's Wild and Woolly," is shown in a pageant which first depicts the days of the redman, the coming of the white man, and then the mushroom growth of a tiny village people with straight-shooting cowboys, pretty cowgirls and bearded old settlers. Here, after the show, visitors dance, play the roulette wheels, indulge in faro and other gambling games, all to the rustle of realistic looking greenbacks known in the vernacular as "Round-Up bucks." Happy Canyon, like the Round-Up, is a community show and is presented under the auspices of the Pendleton Commercial -Association.
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