Whooping It Up at the Ellensburg Rodeo

September 9, 2022 at 3:10 p.m.
Roger enjoyed the "mutton busting" event at the Ellensburg Rodeo
Roger enjoyed the "mutton busting" event at the Ellensburg Rodeo

...by Roger Urbaniak

It’s been years since we’ve been to a rodeo. We had a blast.

The noise and excitement generated by loudspeakers coupled with the smell of cotton candy and other carnival foods from the Kittitas County Fair is intoxicating.

Performances by colorfully costumed Yakama tribal members plus horseback organizations from around the state add to the atmosphere. Even advertising becomes more palatable when it is executed by flag-carrying horseback riders.

The Yakama Nation Indian Village and performances are a part of the Ellensburg Rodeo


On your way to the grandstand, you pass a few Texas Longhorn steers plus the mutton busting competition (sheep riding), available to lightweight youngsters. If you watch mutton busting for more than five minutes, you will get hooked. This event is where the seed is planted to grow the rodeo stars of tomorrow...  See if you can spot a star being born.

Tickets can be purchased up to a year in advance and are already available for 2023 events. Prices vary from roughly $20 to $46, depending on events and seats selected. Nearby parking is $10, with shuttle vehicles available. The 2023 events begin on Wednesday, August 30 and end Monday, September 4 (the Ellensburg Rodeo always takes place over the Labor Day Weekend). Shows last roughly 3 hours. Seating locations are posted on the Ellensburg Rodeo web page and include covered grandstand seating should rain or too much sun be an issue. Earplugs might help those with sensitive hearing in some seating locations.

Tickets also include admission to the adjacent Kittitas County Fair, where there is plenty of opportunity to purchase cowboy hats and boots, plus every imaginable carnival food you can imagine, even including deep fried pickles.

Come with plenty of cash and you will find fun places to spend it without looking too hard. Don’t forget to visit buildings that include local craft displays where everything from canning to flowers and assorted craft blue ribbons are vigorously competed for. 

We visited a complimentary senior visitor center, where free coffee, cookies and ice water were available (donations are welcome).

Events at the rodeo include bull riding, bucking broncos, calf roping, including a new calf roping event for women, and steer wrestling. Because the Ellensburg Rodeo is near the end of the rodeo season, it means that wins and placing are even more important for the all-around annual standings. [The Ellensburg Rodeo is one of the “old rodeos” and has earned its place as one of America’s Top 10 professional rodeos.]

The 2023 Ellensburg Rodeo will be celebrating its 100th year, and we are expecting more excitement than normal. If you missed the 2022 rodeo, don’t make the same mistake next year. You will be sure to enjoy it.
We wore smiles for several days after our most recent visit and suspect that you will too.

Roger Urbaniak


For more information, visit https://ellensburgrodeo.com/
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