In the community

Dazzling queens, gritty riders: Rodeo stokes Vale’s patriotic spirit

A young rider grips tight as she starts her mutton bustin’ run at the Vale Fourth of July Rodeo on Saturday. (Malheur Enterprise / Max Egener)

VALE – The 104th Vale Fourth of July Rodeo was nothing short of spectacular.

The four-night event kicked off with the Fourth of July parade through Vale on Wednesday and culminated Saturday with the Vale Rodeo queen coronation.

There was plenty of family entertainment in the nights between as well.

“It went really good,” said Jim Mendiola, rodeo president. “We had four decent nights of weather, which is always important.” 

“There was a good turnout and nobody got super banged up,” said Mendiola. “No major injuries – at least nothing a few stitches wouldn’t fix.”

He estimated the crowd over the course of the four nights was between 7,500 and 8,000, similar to last year. Mendiola noted the suicide race on Thursday and the bull rides on Friday night as some of the standouts of this year’s rodeo. Riders scored an 89 and a 92 during the bull riding event on Friday.

“There were good riders and good bulls,” said Mendiola. “They put on a good show.”

On the final night of the rodeo, the arena was about half full as the 2019 Vale Rodeo queen coronation took place. Kyla Wright, the 2018 queen, bestowed a diamond crown on the new queen, Bo Bourasa, as both of the girls’ families looked on.

“It was good,” reflected Wright on her year as the queen. “It was definitely a new experience, something that I wouldn’t get in anything else. I met a lot of new people. It was just a great year.”

Jacquelle Heid, the queen coordinator, had nothing but good things to say about the two young women.

“She did a really, really good job,” she said of Wright’s reign. “It’s going to be sad to see her go but we have a great girl coming up.”

Bourasa, who is studying elementary education at Eastern Oregon University, is a longtime Vale resident and has always wanted to be queen. She said she “couldn’t be more excited” to represent the community.

“They are an amazing community. They’re so supportive,” she said.

Bourasa beamed as she exited the arena, her diamond tiara sparkling in the evening sun.

“I’m excited and really ready for the year to start,” she said. “I’m looking forward to travelling and being able to spend time with my mom.”

B.J. Bourasa, Bo’s mother, was the Vale rodeo queen in 1990 and was “a very proud mom” as she watched the title pass to her daughter. 

“I should look and see how many moms and daughters have both been queens,” she said.

Bourasa’s year as queen will be full of hard work. 

“The rodeo queen position is not just ‘I’m a beauty queen and I like to be pretty.’ It’s the advertising for the rodeo all year long,” explained Heid.

On top of the traveling, Heid wants to work with Bourasa to expand the queen competition for next year’s rodeo. 

“Our plan is eight girls,” said Heid of her hopes for next year’s queen competition.

Besides minor improvements, Mendiola said he’s not planning to change much next year. 

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Thanks everyone for attending.”

Carolyn Agrimis: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.