TONASKET The 78th annual Founders Day celebration will kick off with a barbecue at the rodeo grounds on Thursday, May 30, and run through Sunday, June 2.
Activities throughout the weekend include a book sale, fun run, parade, softball tournament, various fundraisers in town, and at the center of it all, the Founders Day Rodeo.
Organizer Julie Alley said this is the biggest event of the year for Tonasket.
“It’s a cultural thing, definitely for our town,” she said.
This year’s rodeo could be one of the best shows the event has ever had, Comancheros Vice President Mike Stansbury said.
Not only are the bronc riders judged, but so are the horses themselves.
Stansbury said the saddle broncs will feature about 10 different contractors, with each bringing three or four of their best horses.
“The guys with the best horses win money too…They’ve had them out of the chute before, but they haven’t really bucked them competitively, so it could be wild. They’re bringing the best-bred colts they’ve got. They breed them specifically for this. It could be real exciting in the saddle broncs.”
The rodeo starts at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m.
“The bleachers seat 1,200 so we’re hoping to fill them,” “And then there’s beer garden room and some people choose to sit at the picnic tables near the concession stand while they have a good burger. We’re hoping to pack the place both nights.”
Stansbury said last year’s event drew about 1,400 people for the two nights.
Also new to this year’s rodeo is Al Parsons from Oroville taking over as the announcer.
There will also be youth events during the day Friday and Saturday, with a qualifier on Thursday night.
On Thursday evening, a barbecue will be 5 p.m. at the rodeo grounds, followed by children’s games that start at 6 p.m.
The Tonasket Library will host the book sale from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday.
Sign-in for the Tonasket Freedom 5K run will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Proceeds will go toward the Tonasket Water Ranch project, which is approaching $100,000 raised.
The parade down Whitcomb Avenue will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“The parade on Saturday morning brings in people from all around,” Alley said.
After the parade, there will be the third annual Swing into Summer softball tournament at Chief Tonasket Park. It will also feature a home run derby.
Home run derby starts at 12:30 p.m., with the softball tournament at 1:30 p.m. Proceeds from those events go to Tonasket Junior Baseball.