By Mitchell Willetts
Vale enters its 103rd year of July 4th Rodeo this weekend, promising to bring hundreds to town for four days of roping, riding and more.
Jim Mendiola, rodeo board president, says he and fellow board members opted to put together a tried and true rodeo for 2018. They expect to see a turnout typical of years past, with 800 to 1,000 attendees the first night this Saturday, and peaking at 1,500 Sunday, the night of the Suicide Race. Mendiola expects that number to hold steady to the final rodeo night of the 4th, bringing in a cool $34,000-$38,000 at the gate. Not much of a profit, he said, most will go toward making the 104th Vale Rodeo happen.
With an added $800 in each event’s prize pot, a lot of cowboys and cowgirls will be coming to town too, he said, though he’s not yet sure how many.
Alongside the busy rodeo schedule is the Chamber of Commerce’s Oregon Trail Days at Wadleigh Park, featuring vendors and family friendly activities, including Bubble Balls, horse carriage rides, and a dog show, to name a few.
Trails Days may not have the clout of a 103-year tradition, but it’s continuing to grow, according to Vale Chamber of Commerce board member Karlene Keller.
“When we first started out in the early part of June, we only had about five vendors committed to coming,” Keller said, adding that at last count the number of vendors was 31.
The previous Oregon Trail Days had fewer than half that number, Keller said.
The chamber and the rodeo board don’t work together much, despite their shared time frame, Keller said, but they both benefit one another regardless.
“Our whole mission is to bring people into town to see what Vale has to offer,” Keller said. “Hopefully the draw of the Oregon Trail Days will also, in turn, make people stick around for the rodeo.”