Omak Stampede marks 85th anniversary

Taylor Gregg of Walla Walla, wrestles down a steer during the 2017 Omak Stampede.

OMAK — Top cowboys and cowgirls – more than 400 of them — are signed up to compete at the 85th annual Omak Stampede, set for Aug. 8-12.

The 83rd World-Famous Suicide Race, plus the Omak Stampede Indian Encampment, ride-in, grand parade, two art shows and other Western fun accompany the rodeo.

Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Omak Stampede Arena, 421 Stampede Drive E.

Tickets are available from the Stampede ticket office next to the arena in East Side Park, online or by phone.

Prices vary, depending on the performance and section. Special prices are offered on Thursday for family night and on Sunday for Patriot Day plus additional discounts.

Fans can expect a full range of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing. A wild horse race starts each performance and a running of the World-Famous Suicide Race comes after each rodeo performance.

Activities begin Aug. 8 with opening of the Davis Shows carnival at the west end of East Side Park, in which the rodeo arena also is located. Carnival hours are 5-11 p.m. Wednesday; the carnival continues daily throughout the weekend.

The encampment gets under way Wednesday evening with campers’ night, as does the Omak Western and Native Art Show at the Omak Elks Lodge, 110 S. Ash St.

Preceding the Thursday night rodeo is the annual Wrangler Kids’ Night, starting at 4 p.m. in the arena. Youngsters can compete in a variety of games and a dress-up contest; prizes will be given.

Thursday is family night at the rodeo.

Slack competition in timed events will be at 9 a.m. Friday in the arena. Admission is free.

Slack is offered when there are more contestants signed up for a timed event than can be run during the regular rodeo performances. The extra competitive time also allows contestants to make a showing at more than one rodeo per weekend.

Friday is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, with $1 from each rodeo ticket going to the campaign to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and detection. Stampede officials urge rodeo participants and fans to wear pink.

Sunday is Patriot Day in support of U.S. troops, with red, white and blue clothing encouraged by Stampede officials. Veterans get in free with military ID.

Each rodeo performance begins with the Parade of Flags, a drill involving horses and riders carrying flags sponsored by area businesses, clubs and agencies.

Arena runs by royalty follow, with Stampede Queen Kaelyn Marchand, Omak, reigning over the event.

Assisting the cowboys will be bullfighters Erick Schwindt and Rowdy Barry, and clown and barrelman J.J. Harrison, who grew up in Okanogan. The specialty act is trick riders Jessica Blair-Fowlkes and Madison MacDonald Thomas.

The announcer will be Steve Kenyon. Stock contractors are Big Bend, Ritzville, and Flying 5, Pomeroy.

Suicide Race fans wearing booster buttons, available on the grounds and in local businesses, will be admitted to special viewing areas on the hill and the dike in the park. A rodeo ticket stub from the performance preceding each race also grants admission to the dike area.

Viewing also is available from many areas of the arena for rodeo ticket holders.

Concessions will operate all weekend on the grounds. Vendors offer a variety of food and beverages, cowboy hats and other souvenirs.

Other weekend events;

• Ride-in, 8 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, Okanogan County Fairgrounds through Okanogan to Omak. The Okanogan Team Penners’ Association is in charge.

• Grand parade, 10 a.m. Sunday, downtown.

• Christians-in-Action stage ministry, all weekend, Triangle Park between the rodeo arena and carnival.

• Okanogan Valley Farmers Market in its customary location, Legion Park on North Second Avenue in Okanogan, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

• Post-rodeo dances Thursday with a DJ, and Friday and Saturday nights in the arena dance area. The Night Riders will perform.

• Stampede Association Museum will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at 410 E. Second Ave., near the Omak Visitor Information Center and just off Omak Avenue.

Fees are charged for parking on the grounds, with day and weekend passes available. Flaggers will be on hand to help direct traffic at the end of each rodeo performance.

Separate parking fees apply in the encampment area.

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