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This is the “It’s getting’ real” week for me. Every year, this is the week that tells me Labor Day weekend’s Ellensburg Rodeo is near. I’m sure if I looked back at each of my rodeo columns around this time each year, the week of Hermiston and Omak snaps me to attention … and then I’ll of course write about it, shouting out the reality check to all who will listen. I’m not sure I’ve ever been surprised that Ellensburg is less than a month away, but just yesterday I was thinking, “Wait a second, weren’t we just talking about Reno kicking off the summer travel?”

Reno was six weeks ago, y’all. In another six weeks, Ellensburg will be two weeks in our rear-view mirror.

Ready or not, we’re in the thick of the Northwest Run of travel. But even if you’re up everywhere in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and up north in British Columbia, you’ve still got to make other rodeos and what a bunch of decisions to make this week. If Hermiston’s $200,000 payday is on the list, which one or two do you choose out of Omak and the Bozeman and Missoula one-headers in Montana? If you’re more of a Sikeston, Mo., kind of cowboy, do you catch Lawton, Okla., and Lovington’s $225,000 payday in New Mexico on the same weekend? Maybe I’m totally off the mark and instead the $90,000 purses in Logan, Utah, and Dawson Creek, B.C., catch an athlete’s attention.

Who knows? All I know is there’s plenty of cash to be claimed this weekend.

As always, I’m always compiling a list of mental notes of random facts I see materialize and way too many story ideas that are difficult to write to completion simply because of time and logistics.

No matter what, the WestStar Roping is always something we cover, but this year’s event will be bittersweet as the Repp family event is entering the short go finale so to speak. This is the last year the Best of the Best Open roping will be held at WestStar. It’s a roping that for years has paid out $20,000 to the winning team and this year’s purse will pay $40,000 to the winning team. I’ve had some great interviews in that arena. I’ve talked with winning ropers like Wade Wheatley in 2009 who said the 10-grand he made at the roping felt like winning a 100-grand because winning hadn’t been the norm for him for months. I’ve had discussions with ropers like Clay Tryan in 2017 who has seemingly won every jackpot known to man and WestStar’s check felt just as good as The Strait or the BFI.

I like the Pro/Am as well. Watching amateur ropers pair up with their professional counterparts while going for big money as well.

Seeing me there isn’t worth the price of admission, but I’ll be there once again this time around. The roping is worth the price of admission, I might add a joke or two to help make it memorable.

Cowboys and cowgirls have plenty of opportunities at a memorable check or go-round the next few weeks before Ellensburg’s bonanza of a pending payday. Can’t wait to watch it unfold.

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


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