The Pendleton Round-Up may best be known for its heart-pounding rodeo and the professional cowboys who compete in it, but there's another event that's changing the lives of its participants. The Children's Rodeo offers special needs children the opportunity to be cowboys and cowgirls for an hour of fun inside the famous Round-Up Arena.
The Children's Rodeo will kick off Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 11:30 a.m. (after slack) and runs until about 12:30 p.m., just before the first day of rodeo action starts in the Round-Up Grounds.
The 40 or so children who participate in the Children's Rodeo - which always takes place the Wednesday of Round-Up week - are special education students with either mental or physical handicaps. Each child receives a trophy, T-shirt, lariat, cowboy hat, scarf and a photo with a cowboy.
The Round-Up Association funds the event, while the Umatilla-Morrow Education Service District (ESD) co-sponsors it each year. Nearly 80 volunteers from the ESD Round-Up Association, Western Trails Therapeutic Riding Center and others involved in the community and with the Round-Up help to make the event a success.
Children from all over Eastern Oregon and beyond will ride horses, challenge their balancing skills on a hand-rocked bucking bull, rope pretend steers, barrel race on stick ponies and participate in goat un-tying. In addition, each child will have his or her picture taken with a Round-Up cowboy or cowgirl.
One Echo student, 8-year-old Zac Evans, will feel extra special when all of Echo School's elementary students come to the Children's Rodeo to cheer him on this year.
Also, look for the Children's Rodeo float in the Dress-Up Parade on Saturday, Sept. 9. Several of the children who will participate in the Children's Rodeo also will ride on the float, which is decorated by ESD and other community volunteers.