Pendleton Round-Up royalty spans three generations

1960 Princess Darlene Tucker, 1982 Princess Cindy Turner, 2010 Princess Paige Bailey

photo/By Gary Ogilvie

Three generations of a Joseph family are in the thick of the celebration of the 100th annual Pendleton Round-Up this year.

Front and center is 2010 Round-Up Princess Paige Bailey, 19, a former Chief Joseph Days queen, who has been traveling with her four fellow court members to rodeos and public appearances around the region.

"I've had just one weekend off since April," the 2009 Joseph High School valedictorian said. Princess Paige said her favorite court experiences are becoming good friends with her fellow court members and traveling to top rodeos in Calgary, Cheyenne and Salinas, as well as appearing at her hometown Chief Joseph Days.

Sharing the centennial hoopla and revisiting memories of their own glory days in the Round-Up limelight are Paige's grandmother, Darlene Tucker Turner, a princess in the 50th court half a century ago, and her mother Cindy Turner Bailey, who was a Pendleton princess in 1982. Two aunts, Candi Turner Willis and Sandi Turner Rowe, were also princesses on the 1984 and 1988 courts, respectively.

All past Pendleton Round-Up court members are being honored during this centennial year, with several get-togethers - for the "has beens," as grandma Darlene put it - and in the parades. They will be photographed together for a formal portrait and will be part of the Friday rodeo serpentine, riding (on horseback or wagon) behind 100 American flags at the beginning of the event.

Princess Paige, like all her royal relatives, was also a queen on the Chief Joseph Days court, and traces her connection to the Pendleton Round-Up to her great-grandfather, Round-Up Hall of Fame stock contractor Harley Tucker and great-grandmother Bonnie Tucker, who was longtime Round-Up rodeo secretary and namesake of the present-day Bonnie Tucker Booth.

"I don't think too much about it," Princess Paige admits about the heritage part of her Pendleton reign. She laughs about her grandma and mother telling her, "You are spoiled. We didn't have all the clothes or get to travel as much as you did."

"We went places but nothing like they do now," Darlene said. She recalls that her 1960 court was the first to wear classy wool western suits, and said that hers is on display in the Hall of Fame this year. The hat was supplied by another court member, however. "The mice got mine," she said.

Over 20 years later, she said her oldest daughter Cindy also wore a western suit, but the next year the courts started wearing outfits made of leather, with the design changing every year.

Among Darlene's memories are meeting then-governor Mark Hatfield in Salem at the home of one of the other princesses and getting the mumps in Pendleton several weeks before the Round-Up but right before two pro-football teams came to town to play.

The year was somewhat bitter-sweet because Darlene was on the Round-Up court the same year her father, Harley Tucker, died. "I didn't have anyone to take me around, like Cindy and John (Bailey) do with Paige," she said.

When Darlene Turner looks back on her year on the court, she has some good memories, but many of them have faded. "I actually enjoyed the years my three daughters were on the court much more than my own," she said.

She said that she and husband Dave Turner especially bonded with the parents of daughter Candi's fellow court members in 1984, and the group re-unites every year at Round-Up time.

Past Princess Cindy Bailey agrees with her mother, that she's enjoying her daughter's court even more than her own year in the Pendleton spotlight. She also understands Paige's lack of great concern about the heritage thing.

"When you are 19 you live in the moment. That's what you are supposed to do," she said, adding that in the future Paige will probably come to relish her year on the court even more than she does now.

"My year on the court was a great experience, and we have made lifelong friends," Cindy said. "I know I really enjoyed myself, meeting people on the trips, the other girls. What I probably remember most is how well the Round-Up directors treated us. ...We traveled, but not near as much as Paige."

Cindy reflected a little on the legacy of having been a Pendleton Round-Up princess.

"Once you're a member of the Pendleton Round-Up family, you're a member forever," she said. "The Pendleton Round-Up holds very true to its tradition. ... It's very special."

Among other family fans of Princess Paige are her paternal grandparents, Willis and Barbara Bailey of Joseph, and her older brother, Lane, who is a rodeo bull rider on weekends.

Paige has been practicing the Round-Up court's trademark grand entry, which includes jumping over a fence. That entry is what excites her most about Round-Up week. "I've been told that there really isn't another feeling like it. It's also what I'm the most nervous for," she said.

Princess Paige is also looking ahead, past the royal hoopla, to returning to Oregon State University as a sophomore studying to become a physical therapist.

A week full of 100th annual Pendleton Round-Up events started with the traditional Dress-Up parade and an evening concert Saturday, Sept. 11, and will conclude with the final of four pro-rodeo performances Saturday, Sept. 18.

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