The Sisters Rodeo is an all-volunteer operation. From painting grandstands to picking rocks in the arena, it’s volunteers who make the annual event “The Biggest Little Show in the World.”
photo by Cody Rheault
By Cody Rheault
The banners are hung, the paint is fresh, merchandise is folded, and the traffic cones are placed. These are only a few of the tasks undertaken on Saturday as volunteers prepared for one of Sisters' biggest weekends.
Sisters hosts a number of high-traffic weekends throughout the year and the 78th annual Sisters Rodeo is no exception. It takes a lot for it to run smoothly. "The Biggest Little Show in the World" takes a big number of volunteers and a lot of heart to keep running year after year. The Sisters Rodeo has been a landmark event in the region since its start in 1940, but the driving force behind its success has always been its volunteers.
Many have served more than 20 years. In fact, it's hard to find any who have spent less than two decades in service. Most of them have seen the event change over those years, too. However, many note it has always had one thing in common: to provide a fun, entertaining atmosphere for spectators and competitors alike.
Last Saturday's work party consisted of more than 50 people from throughout Central Oregon. Much of the work began in March of this year for the upcoming Rodeo weekend and has continued through the spring months.
Chris Schaad, vice president of the Sisters Rodeo Board of Directors, said every year is a new undertaking, with the goal of always making the show better. And that starts with a lot of work. Each year has seen changes - whether that be structures receiving a face-lift or new fencing. One of this year's tasks involved re-wiring electrical lines to handle the power load and locating a more efficient area for outhouses.
But for Schaad it means more than just the next project.
"What we really do here is give back to the community," he said.
Many volunteers return every year for that very aspect: community. Many - if not all - will also say they return for the fun of it. They pride themselves in hosting one of the most entertaining and successful events of the year.
"It's really a wonderful thing," said Vicky Yost, a 25-year Rodeo veteran and kitchen volunteer. "I love the diversity and the sense of community, and it's a real joy to be a part of."
Vicky swept floors and scrubbed clean the Buckaroo Grill for an upcoming busy weekend serving hamburgers. Others rebuilt screen doors, irrigated, built fences, painted, and replaced faded numbers on the bleacher seats.
About 250 volunteers are expected to work the rodeo this weekend as visitors flood the rodeo gates for one of the most anticipated events of the year.