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We’ve had roughstock events, we’ve had barrel races, ropings a-plenty. But when is the last time we had a PRCA-sanctioned, full rodeo within the friendly confines of Kittitas County? Well, that was Labor Day weekend 2019. So, we’re nearly two years separated from full rodeo action in this county thanks to “The Rona” and I’m thrilled that we’ll all be in attendance for the Cle Elum Roundup this weekend.

I say “we’ll all” be in attendance as it sounds as though the last time I heard, tickets were nearly sold out and that’s with another 500 more seats added this year.

As of Monday night, there are 117 entries and by my count, I have 13 arena athletes with Kittitas County ties entered up. Here’s another number for you: Zero. As in zero bareback entries for the weekend. I’m not sure if it’s an anomaly — it’s certainly not the stock — but for whatever reason, no bareback riders from around the region are entered.

But let’s focus on who is here. The Columbia River Circuit’s top barrel racer, Britni Carlson out of Hermiston, Ore., is entered, as is Ellensburg’s Kass Kayser, the circuit’s second-ranked tie-down roper. The region’s top calf ropers are well represented as five of the top 10 (including Pacen Marez, Jordan Tye, Tucker Braa and Jason Minor in addition to Kayser) will all be in “The Elum” this weekend.

I’ve enjoyed watching the Cle Elum Roundup take shape and adapt year after year. It’s awesome as an evening rodeo and with this weekend’s temperatures topping out above 90 degrees both Friday and Saturday, an evening rodeo with weather in the high 70s or low 80s as the sun sets will certainly be welcomed.

Paydays here will help shape the ever-changing circuit standings tracked by the PRCA. We’re probably not going to see an athlete here that will be on TV competing at the NFR this year, but we will see many ropers and riders who will be at the circuit finals in Redmond, Ore., this fall.

Cle Elum is one of many options for athletes as Joseph, Oregon’s Chief Joseph Days is this weekend as well as three ProWest Rodeo options and a handful of large pro rodeos in the west, highlighted by “The Daddy,” Cheyenne Frontier Days and it’s $950,000 payday.

Last weekend’s offerings in Utah and Idaho netted a few familiar names some cash. Calf roper Jake Pratt took home $3,600 by placing in the short round and average in Nampa, Idaho, while the Minor brothers placed in Ogden, Utah’s average for $2,300. The Minor brothers have been protecting their status in the top 15, but are barely in, whereas Pratt continues to be a few thousand out of the coveted 15th position. There’s just too much rodeo to worry about 15th or 16th place at this point … says the guy who has no dog in the fight, so maybe I shouldn’t downplay the standings.

One battle that has caught my eye — and I’m one of many — is that of bull riding world leader Sage Kimzey and J.B. Mauney, who is third in the world. They have traded wins of late and shared the Xtreme Bulls win last week in Spanish Fork, Utah, for $11,023 each. The six-time world champion Kimzey has a large lead of $51,000 over the two-time PBR world champion Mauney, but as I just said, there’s too much rodeo left in the season — shoot, left just this week — to worry about standings.

Again, I’m thrilled that we’re in Cle Elum this weekend. Flag me down to say hi and we can both celebrate the fact that we’re in an arena together.

Jon Guddat covers rodeo – from the kids to the kids at heart – with a weekly rodeo column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon with story ideas at jonguddat@yahoo.com.

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