Chief Joseph Days marks 67th year

<p>Members of the 2012 Tuckerettes riding group, an integral part of the Chief Joseph Days rodeo each year, practice Sunday evening for their once-a-year appearances. Many are past CJD court members. Watch for these hard-riding cowgirls during each rodeo performance - 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.</p>

JOSEPH – After weeks of mounting excitement, and lots of work on the part of many volunteers, the 67th Chief Joseph Days celebration takes off today (Wednesday) with the Family Night rodeo, the first of four Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association rodeo performances.

The entire town, with a population of approximately 1,081, is expected to swell up to ten times its normal size.

Two parades, cowboy breakfasts, nightly dances, downtown vendors, and a Nez Perce friendship feast and dance, and Old West hospitality are all part of Wallowa County’s oldest and biggest summer event. (See complete schedule on Page A2.)

A total of 306 cowboys and cowgirls from 14 states and Canada have signed up to compete in the PRCA rodeo, which includes bareback riding, team riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, and bull riding, plus barrel racing. See Page B1 for more information. Mini-bull riding, mutton busting and wild cow milking will add to the fun.

The rodeo starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Harley Tucker Memorial Arena. It is followed by a family dance Wednesday night, and an adult dance to live music the other three nights. A teen dance is scheduled at 9 p.m. at the Joseph Community Center in downtown Joseph Friday and Saturday nights.

As always, CJD will feature a stellar lineup of rodeo professionals, including returning announcer Jody Carper, a former pro-rodeo cowboy from Texas. Veteran champion bullfighter Loyd Ketchum will be joined by Donnie Griggs, a bullfighter from Hermiston with 17 years’ experience.

Though no one is quite sure what to expect, everyone is looking forward to welcoming rodeo clown Brian Potter of Newville, Ala. With a number of different acts in his repertoire, he will provide comedy and specialty entertainment during the rodeos.

Growney Brothers Rodeo Company of Red Bluff, Calif., is once again providing champion-caliber rodeo stock.

The Tuckerettes riding group, which has its choice of top Wallowa County cowgirls every year, will once again be featured during each performance, leading the grand entry serpentine and escorting event winners on victory rides around the arena. Members, many of them past CJD court members are Teah Evans, Dena Rynearson Miller, Linzi Strohm Smith, Paige Bailey, Sara Freels Tippett, Beckijo Smergut and Brooke Greenshields.

Reigning over the entire 2012 celebration are Queen Kylie Willis and Princess Emily Ketscher, who will be highly visible at every rodeo performance and at every CJD event.

Queen Kylie, a great-granddaughter of arena namesake Harley Tucker, is giving up her place as American-flag bearer for the Tuckerettes to wear the CJD tiara this year.

This year the “Fun Guy” entertainment company is setting up a mechanical bull and a bouncy gym at the rodeo grounds for added family fun.

Rodeo fans are encouraged to be “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” to the rodeo Thursday in an annual CJD campaign to fight breast cancer.

Visiting children are invited to don a costume Friday and join local kids in the popular 10 a.m. CJD Junior Parade on Joseph’s Main Street. Sign up at the Indian Lodge Motel starting at 9 a.m. There are cash prizes for the top three entries in each category and the grand prize is a bicycle donated by Coca Cola distributing.

The CJD Grand Parade starting at 10 a.m. draws the single biggest crowd of the week, packing both sides of Main Streets for blocks. The parade will honor grand marshals George and Helen Gabriel, longtime sponsors of CJD, as well as CJD courts of the past decades. The parade features up to 100 entries every year.

The Chief Joseph Days Commemorative Encampment next to the rodeo grounds invites everyone to a big friendship feast after the parade. The Joseph band Nez Perce descendants will provide salmon and Indian bread, while those who attend are asked to contribute large portions of salads, desserts, bread and other food to share if they are able. Traditional dancing will begin about 3 p.m. and the public is invited to stay.

There are too many rodeo contestants in timed events for all competition to take place in front of the Chief Joseph Days crowds, many of them will compete out of the limelight of the nighttime rodeo action during “slack time” starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and rodeo fans are invited to watch for free. Women’s barrel racing slack will be held immediately after the Thursday night rodeo.

The final cowboy breakfast will start at the rodeo grounds cook booth at 11 p.m. Saturday and continue through about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, when the final event of the celebration, the outdoor Cowboy Church Service is held by the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys at 9 a.m.

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