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The Sisters Rodeo & Parade … plus Sisters Art in the Park
Did you dream of being a cowboy or cowgirl growing up? I did and I still do! Running around outside with my brother and cousins was my style – barbies were not. I wanted to live on a ranch and have my own horse. Watching John Wayne movies, also fed my curiosity and love for horses, the outdoors, anything western and involving cowboys! My favorite quote is one of his – “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway”.
When we moved to Central Oregon, I was so excited we would have the opportunity to see “The Biggest Little Show in the World” – Sisters Rodeo!
So began the start of our annual family tradition each June to kick off the summer and rodeo season in Central Oregon. The rodeo and parade, is something for all age groups and multi-generations to enjoy together. It is a step back into the History of the West in the United States. It’s an authentic small town celebration. Let me share with you how we get the most out of the Sisters Rodeo & Parade.
A full day of fun starts on Saturday morning with the Sisters Parade. Find a curb and set up your chairs. We always find a spot along Cascade Rd. and close to either Larch St. and Spruce St. Stay clear of Sisters Bakery (between Spruce St., and Fir St.), unless you are across the street. There is a lot of sidewalk congestion and crowding, because everyone is grabbing a pastry to watch the parade. The parade starts at 9:30am, I recommend being there by no later than 8.30 am to claim the spot you want – not what is left. You can also get ahead of the line that will start at Sisters Bakery; it always goes out the door. You will also have better luck finding a parking spot strategically located between the Parade and Art in the Park.
When the parade ends, take a quick and easy walk over to the Sisters Creekside Park for Art in the Park (corner of Jefferson Ave. and Hwy 20). Explore the local arts and craft vendors exhibiting locally hand-crafted products. One year we purchased a lumber mill saw blade; the artist had cut out the center to unveil an eagle, pine trees and mountains. And yes, the blades were sharp and still are; hopefully it never falls off the wall.
The park is nestled along Whychus Creek with lots of green grass and tall pine trees to enjoy live local entertainment or grab a bite to eat.
After you’ve finished up with the Parade and/or Art in the Park, it is time to head to the Sisters Rodeo grounds for the 1pm performance. We prefer this event time, because the evening performance gets pretty wild and crazy with those there to party and watch. If you buy tickets online before the rodeo you will be thanking yourself for the time saved along with a better choice of seats to choose from. They will either mail the tickets out to you or have them at will call. The seating is metal grandstands. I highly recommend bringing one of those padded seat cushions to sit on that also has back support. We’ve found that aisle seats and in the upper rows is best. No crawling all over other people (they crawl over you) and the view is better from about row 6 and higher. That way you don’t have your view blocked from people walking back and forth and you see over the fencing around the arena. Also important to consider is the grandstand to sit in. Especially on a blue sky sunny day. If you want a sunburn on your face and to squint the entire time, you will like Grandstands Gold 1, Gold 2, and Red 1. That happened to us the first year and ever since then we’ve sat with the sun to our backs in Grandstand Blue 1, Blue 2, or Red 4. Regardless, of which grandstand you sit in all the views are perfect.
As you will see, we like to arrive early at events to not be rushed and enjoy our time. We like to get to the the Rodeo grounds 11 am for the 1 pm performance. The additional bonus of this is multiple. #1 you get up front and close parking to the entry; #2 quick access back to your car if necessary, especially nice when you have kids, #3 you can tailgate.
Heads up when you enter the grounds the Deschutes CO Sheriff Posse is there to assist. If you pay attention to them, listen and give them respect your visit will be even better. They are a wonderful group of volunteers and fun to talk with and pet their horses, but respect goes along way.
Everything about the Rodeo is enjoyable but a few events stick out. At the beginning of a performance they bring out into the arena the next generation of horse stock; Mare’s and their babies scatter and run about in the arena feeling happy and frisky. It’s so beautiful to watch.
JJ Harrison – the Rodeo Clown, is non stop entertainment and laughter. He will have you laughing so hard you’ll have tears rolling out of your eyes. The energy to entertain a crowd for the entire performance of three plus hours at the same level … I think he has a camel back of Mt. Dew.
Each year they have a specialty act that never disappoints. The One-Armed Bandit, aka John Payne, we watched in awe as he worked and moved 2 buffalo up onto the top of his horse trailer. Then it was A Muttley Crew with The Coppertown Clown. All 10 dogs in the act are rescue dogs adopted and trained by Bert Davis aka the Coppertown Clown. The antics and laughter, how can you not enjoy a performance full of dogs. Another time we watched Jason Goodman and his Percheron Thunder Team. He drove a team of 6 percherons standing on the backs of two of the horses as he steered them around the arena in a variety of patterns.
So go on and enjoy a day full of good times and memories, you’ll never forget.