There was plenty of fun – and mud – in the rodeo arena Saturday at Jordan Valley’s Big Loop Rodeo. (The Enterprise/Kristine de Leon)
JORDAN VALLEY – Rodeo season kicked into high gear last weekend at the 60th annual Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo.
At least a thousand visitors dropped in on the town of less than 200 to watch buckaroos from across the Great Basin shake off the rust from the winter and get back into the saddle.
Weather can be a challenge for an early-season rodeo, and that was the case at this year’s Big Loop, where conditions were muddy and wet at times. Saturday rodeo fans were met with some warmth and sunshine, but the dreary weather was back on Sunday.
Yet, neither rain nor cold nor nasty roads kept fans from enjoying the performers show off their rodeo and ranching skills with flair, from bronc riding to calf roping to wild horse taming.
Cars, campers and tents lined Highway 95 across the small town built on ranching.
Jerry Raburn of the Jordan Valley Rodeo Board said people are drawn to the Big Loop Rodeo because it’s a unique event.
“For the most part, it is unlike most rodeos,” said Raburn. “We have many events that ranch cowboys and cowgirls can compete in. We also have a great trade show in the park.”
The Big Loop is also one of the first rodeo events of the year, according to Dennis Stanford, secretary of the Jordan Valley Rodeo Board.
“It’s just different here. It’s mostly ranchers and cowboys coming from all over the Great Basin,” Stanford said. “It’s an open rodeo for amateurs and it’s a lot of fun.”
Started in 1959 by the Jordan Valley Rodeo board to celebrate the Oregon Centennial, the rodeo got its current name in 1961 when the board decided to have an event that would make the Jordan Valley Rodeo unique. Hence, the “Big Loop” was added in 1962.
According to a history book on the event, the “Big Loop” concept came from a few ranchers from Malheur and Harney Counties arguing about which county had the biggest haystacks and swung the biggest loops. The only way they could settle the matter was to have a “Big Loop” contest.
Today, horse roping with a 20-foot loop is the main draw of the Jordan Valley Rodeo.
The contest takes extremely skilled ropers, in which the horse has to first be roped around the neck and brought under control before the front feet can be roped.
Reporter Kristine de Leon: 541-473-3377.
Photos by Kristine de Leon
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