: Steve Heinrichs

Saddle Up for These 4 Central Oregon Rodeos

Watch bull riding, shop for Western wear and taste local spirits on the east side of the Cascades.
May 13, 2024

In Central Oregon’s high desert, Western culture is a way of life — and in the summer, that means rodeos. Swinging a leg over a 1,500-pound bucking bull or roping cattle from horseback may not be for everyone, but anyone can cheer on these talented rodeo athletes from the stands. Plus, Central Oregon rodeo towns are known for their great food and proximity to outdoor adventures. So grab your boots, dust off your hat and hit the road. Central Oregon’s cowboy culture is ready to welcome you, even if it really is your first rodeo. 

Sisters Rodeo

Kick Off Summer With Western Gear and Cocktails in Sisters

A premier event in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the Sisters Rodeo gives you a chance to whoop and holler for the biggest names in professional rodeo competing for a world title. From bronco riding and steer wrestling to barrel racing, expect thrilling action and incredible athleticism in the ring. A highlight is the annual Xtreme Bulls event, which pits bucking bulls against national-finalist contestants competing for the highest score. Each event is individually ticketed, and they usually sell out, so make sure to buy direct from the rodeo office by early spring. 

Located 20 miles northwest of Bend, downtown Sisters has an iconic Western aesthetic, right down to its wooden boardwalks and swinging saloon doors. Shop for hats, boots and Western apparel at Dixie’s for a rodeo-ready look. For dinner embrace the cool desert air by dining outdoors at The Barn, which offers food carts and a taphouse with more than 20 rotating microbeers, natural wines, craft ciders and cocktails. Or grab something to grill from the family-owned Sisters Meat & Smokehouse, including your favorite beef cuts as well as elk, Alaskan seafood and smoked cheeses.

Prineville Reservoir State Park (Photo by Gritchelle Fallesgon)

Watch a Race and Go Line Dancing in Prineville

The first Crooked River Roundup was held in Prineville, about 36 miles northwest of Bend, in 1945. Today many of its traditions continue uninterrupted — like the American Legion raising the U.S. flag at every performance. 

Make sure to arrive early to catch the celebratory grand entry featuring flag riders, the local high school rodeo team and rodeo queens from across the Northwest before the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo kicks off. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time or at the gate. Don’t forget your dancing boots: A rodeo rewatch party, including line and swing dancing, is included with rodeo admission. The same location hosts the Crooked River Parimutuel Horse Races each July. With the highest daily attendance of any track in Oregon, it draws the fastest horses and top jockeys in the Northwest. 

Bring your bike along to enjoy Prineville’s cycle-friendly streets. Take a scenic ride to Wild Ride Brewing for a pint and a snack from one of several food carts. More advanced cyclists can plan ahead to compete in one of the many cycling events that pass through Prineville every year. Or visit Prineville Reservoir State Park on the shores of the Prineville Reservoir for standup paddleboarding and kayaking. Plan to stick around after the sun goes down. A certified International Dark Sky Park, Prineville Reservoir State Park is an exceptional place for stargazing.  

Tite Knot (Photo by Gritchelle Fallesgon)

Live Music and Mutton Busting in Redmond

The Deschutes County Rodeo is part of the Deschutes County Fair in Redmond. The price of admission includes both events, so plan for a full weekend of carnival rides, cotton candy and exciting rodeo events — including mutton busting, in which aspiring young cowboys and cowgirls strap on helmets and protective vests to ride wild sheep released from the bucking chutes. 

Get fired up before the day with a latte or mocha at Tite Knot. Afterward, recap the most exciting moments over a dinner of locally raised USDA Prime steak at the Brickhouse in downtown Redmond. Still feeling energetic? Check the event calendar at General Duffy’s Watering Hole, which regularly hosts country-music stars like Trace Adkins and Elle King.

LaPine State Park (Photo by Dylan VanWeelden)

Barrel Racing and Cornhole in La Pine

Held every year on the Fourth of July weekend, the La Pine Rodeo describes itself as the “Greatest Little Rodeo in Oregon.” This laid-back affair offers affordable family fun, including a Fourth of July kickoff party complete with live music, a cornhole tournament and a firework show. In addition to classic events like barrel racing, the La Pine Rodeo also features a festive parade.

While you’re in town, visit Badlands Artisan Distillery, which is renowned for creative spirits like cucumber gin and plum vodka. Or visit LaPine State Park, adjacent to the trout-filled Upper Deschutes River, with a tranquil campground and 14 miles of multi-use trails. 

About The
Author

Katie Schrock
Katie Schrock grew up in the heart of farming country in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, where she raises cattle, chickens and horses. An entrepreneur, she does marketing and communications for her businesses, Western Insights Media, as well as the Ag Leader Academy and her philanthropic project, Cowgirl 911.

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