Children’s Rodeo prepares for little buckaroos

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A tip in the infamous Let’er Buck Room at the Pendleton Round-Up will go a long way to bring smiles to kids at the Children’s Rodeo. Starting this year, volunteers in the Let’er Buck Room will donate the tips they make to the Children’s Rodeo.

Nearly 40 regional children will have the chance to be cowboys and cowgirls for the day at the 29th annual Children’s Rodeo on Wednesday, Sept. 11, just before the start of rodeo action at the Pendleton Round-Up. The Children’s Rodeo is sponsored by the Pendleton Round-Up Association, Happy Canyon Association and the InterMountain Education Service District, and is an annual event the Wednesday of Round-Up week. Support this year also comes from the Rotary Club of Pendleton.

Mike Ledbetter, Pendleton Round-Up Director for the Let’er Buck Room, said his volunteer servers there came up with the idea to donate their tips to the Children’s Rodeo. He said they recognize that no other Round-Up volunteers receive tips for the work they do, so donating LBR tips makes things more even, Ledbetter said, and can help a good cause.

In addition, Ledbetter and his volunteers in the LBR have decided to donate proceeds from selling empty Pendleton Whisky bottles after the rodeo and other events throughout the year in the LBR to the Children’s Rodeo. They used to give away the empties to people who “use them for all sorts of projects,” Ledbetter said, but the volunteers decided that they could help out a cause like the Children’s Rodeo by instead charging $2 per empty bottle. Since February, they’ve raised around $300 from the bottle sales.

“If this can help out even a little to bring even more smiles to these kids’ faces at the (Children’s) Rodeo, then it’s worth it to us,” Ledbetter said. He also noted that these donations are completely separate from what the Round-Up Association already donates to support the Children’s Rodeo each year, and comes directly from the LBR volunteers, not the Round-Up Association.

Special needs children from around Eastern Oregon will have the opportunity to participate in rodeo-related activities in the famous Round-Up Arena during this year’s Children’s Rodeo on Sept. 11 with the help of volunteers, including PRCA and local cowboys.

Activities include riding a horse, riding in a horse-drawn buggy, riding a hand-rocked pretend bull, roping a pretend steer, barrel racing on stick ponies, “milking” a wooden cow and pulling a ribbon off a goat’s tail.

This year, a former Children’s Rodeo participant who is now all grown up – Shelby Hemphill from Hermiston – and her mother, Jana Smith, will assist with handing trophies out to participants.

In addition to the hundreds of family members, friends and other supporters who come out to cheer on the Children’s Rodeo participants from the stands, 95 students from Ione School District and 175 students from Echo Elementary will also attend to support the children. The Round-Up Association donates rodeo tickets to the children from these schools so that they may attend both the Children’s Rodeo and the Round-Up main event.

“We’re so fortunate to have had such great support from the Round-Up, Happy Canyon and our community for 29 years,” said Children’s Rodeo Director Karen Parker. “I’m always thrilled to see the support these kids receive out in the stands.”

Each Children’s Rodeo participant will receive a t-shirt, cowboy hat, lariat, scarf, trophy and a photo with their cowboy volunteer.

This year’s event is on Sept. 11 at approximately 11:30 a.m., right after slack, and ends at around 12:30 p.m. before the rodeo begins. For more information, please visit


**Media: Please contact IMESD Communications Director Casey White-Zollman ( or 541-966-3115) if you plan to attend to ensure entry into the Round-Up Grounds and Arena.

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