Ellensburg Rodeo Finale

A Ellensburg Rodeo Posse member waves to the crowd during the Ellensburg Rodeo finale Sept. 2, 2019. The 2020 rodeo has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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The Ellensburg Rodeo Board announced the cancellation of the 2020 Labor Day weekend rodeo on Thursday.

In a news release, the board said 2020 presented some extremely difficult challenges and the board worked tirelessly looking at all angles possible to hold the event. In the end, the board felt that there was no way to host the  Ellensburg Rodeo safely and responsibly.

The entire board collectively spent hundreds of hours planning for the past three months and had hoped that the hard work and preparation would result in the ability to have the 97th annual rodeo. The cancellation of the rodeo includes all events that are traditional to the Labor Day weekend, including the Xtreme Bulls, parade and concert.

The Kittitas County Fair will be making its decision on July 16.

Since 1923, the only other time the Ellensburg Rodeo was cancelled was from 1942 through 1944 due to World War II. The board of directors determined that the requirements to keep the community and spectators safe while balancing the need to meet all CIVID-19 requirements and directives became increasingly difficult given the changing and emerging facts.

The board has been working directly with the Kittitas County Health Officer, state Representatives, Kittitas County Commissioners, Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce and numerous other partners prior to this decision.

“This was going to be a very special year with the Ellensburg Rodeo being inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, but the safety of our community is our priority and with the current risks associated with the COVID-19 our decision not to move forward was the right decision,” said Jerry Doolin, President of the Ellensburg Rodeo.

The board said it understands that this decision will financially impact the entire community, which is why it will be giving any donations collected directly to the volunteer organizations that help to make the Labor Day experience memorable.

Details on the refund and donation program will be announced in the coming days.

The board thanked the entire community, fans, Sponsors, Gold Buckle Members, Top Hands, Ellensburg Rodeo Posse, and all the dedicated volunteers that have given so much time to this historical event.

Planning for 2021 will start immediately and fans will Watch Em’ Buck again next Labor Day weekend.


Both the Kittitas County Incident Management Team and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce issued statements of support for the Rodeo Board’s decision.

“Our support not only goes to the Ellensburg Rodeo Board, but to the rest of Kittitas County. We know that this news will cause many emotions for our residents today. Please take care of yourself and your family as you cope with this news. Remember to cope in positive ways: take care of your body, find activities you enjoy, connect with the people you know and love, and ask for help if you need it.” the IMT states in its release.

The chamber of commerce stated in its release that the Rodeo Board has actively participated in the community’s effort to navigate the state's phased approach on a local level through the unprecedented situation of COVID-19.

“Just like the Ellensburg Rodeo’s core values, community, teamwork, leadership and ownership, the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce believes Kittitas County exudes all of these traits, especially in the face of COVID-19. Kittitas County remains strong and united as we look ahead to the rest of 2020,” the chamber release states.


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