The annual Nyssa Nite Rodeo begins Friday night at the Oregon Trail Arena in Nyssa. (The Enterprise/File).

NYSSA - When you see the flag team race into the arena this Friday just know one thing: the Nyssa Nite Rodeo is growing.

“We started out as a small hometown rodeo,” said Tracey Boyle, rodeo queen coordinator. The two-day event kicks off Friday. Now in its 74th year, the rodeo is attracting more sponsors.

Two years ago an outside drill team used to fly the sponsor flags, but with more support the rodeo decided to go in a different direction.

“We decided we were going to take on our own team,” Boyle said.

Cowgirls – 20 of them – have come from all across the Treasure practice before the show.

Beneath the rain last week, 22-year-old flag team captain Megan Travis was inspecting each rider as they looped around the muddy ground, eight-foot flag in hand. For Jessica Ashcraft of Caldwell, bringing her horse Twist was an opportunity.

“I want him to get used to being around crowds and commotion,” she said.

Around 300 contestants are expected to compete in this year’s rodeo. From June 14 to 15, the Oregon Trail Arena will host mutton busting, bareback, and team roping, among other events.

“It’s a very exciting rodeo,” said Kim Speelman, Nyssa Nite Rodeo president. She adds that it’s a family-friendly event. Her son agrees.

“They treat the kids like adults,” said T.J. Speelman, a novice bull rider. “It’s really based on family and they really try to put an effort into bringing out the kids.”

Once he’s on the bull, he gets butterflies in his stomach. But that has not stopped the Vale High senior from coming out to the Nyssa event four years in a row.

Around 700-800 people are expected to attend Friday and up to 900 Saturday. For 50 visitors attending Saturday’s parade, there’s even a special treat.

“We walk out and hand out 50 free tickets during the parade,” Speelman said. 

The free parade kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday, and there is no charge to participate. (To learn more, call 541-212-9193.)

Rodeo tickets cost $8. For the little ones, ages 5-12, it’s $5. Children under 5 will get in free.

It’s not a PRCA-sanctioned event, Speelman said, but added, “It’s a good paying rodeo.” 

A dozen vendors have signed up for the event. Visitors can expect to munch on kettle corn, roasted nuts and pulled pork. Several boutiques, including Clothes for Does, will be selling rodeo attire, purses and other items.

“Anybody out there who is thinking about being a sponsor for our little hometown rodeo, we’re always looking,” said Boyle.

“Bigger and better plans are coming.” This year’s parade grand marshals are Bob and Christie Holms, owners of Bob’s Steak N’ Spirits and the Nyssa Tavern. Bob Holmes has spent his whole life in the area. Along with some farming, he was a clerk at the Baker Auction Company for 25 years. The last six years have seen him helping out at the rodeo’s mutton bustin’ event.

SUBSCRIBE TO HELP PRODUCE VITAL REPORTING -- For $5 a month, you get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news produced by a professional and highly trained staff. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.