By Mike Maltais
The 43rd annual Methow Valley labor Day Rodeo successfully skirted a couple of local natural disasters and will take place as usual on Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 30-31).
A fire earlier this month and flood waters from heavy rain last week both bypassed the rodeo arena. And while access between Carlton and Twisp on Highway 153 remains closed, other routes – the Twisp-Carlton and Highway 20 over the Loup Loup summit and the North Cascades – are open.
The two-day rodeo is an annual production of the Methow Valley Horsemen with help from many sponsors in the valley.
The Western States Ranch Rodeo Association-sanctioned competition will again feature rough stock events including ranch saddle bronc, bull riding, and saddle bronc on stock provided by C&C Rodeos and Flying Spur Rodeo.
Contestants have through Wednesday (Aug. 27) to sign up, and one local rider who has done just that is Aaron Hammer of Twisp, who will drive up from the Walla Walla Frontier Days Rodeo to compete in both ranch saddle bronc and bull riding on Sunday.
Rodeo secretary Leanna Melton said over a dozen riders have signed up for the ranch saddle bronc alone and some “are coming a long distance” to compete.
Spectators will also get to enjoy the ever-popular mutton busting, barrel racing, stick horse race and half-time show.
Showtime is 1 p.m. both days. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 7 to 12 years of age.
The rodeo grounds, located on the Moccasin Lake Ranch on Twin Lakes Road south of Winthrop, survived a near miss by the Rising Eagle Road fire that broke out Aug. 1 when sparks from a malfunctioning trailer wheel ignited dry vegetation along Highway 20. For a time the area surrounding the rodeo grounds was on a Level 3 (immediate) evacuation alert.
While flash flood waters wreaked havoc in several parts of the valley, damaging homes and closing roads, the rodeo grounds were well situated to avoid that disaster.