Classic rodeo fun at Omak Stampede

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OMAK — Ridin' and ropin' for four nights of rodeo, the world-famous Suicide Race across the Okanogan River, the annual Western and Native Art Show, the Colville Confederated Tribes Indian Encampment - wow. And that's not even all the events in Omak during the annual Omak Stampede, scheduled for Aug. 9 through 12 in Omak.

This year marks the 85th Stampede, which has grown to be one of the largest rodeos in the Pacific Northwest.

Events begin with the annual Ride-In on Aug. 9, and continue through the Grand Parade and final rodeo performance Aug. 12. The Ride-In is the traditional kickoff for the rodeo, on Thursday morning each year. Riders start at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds and ride through Okanogan and Omak to the Stampede grounds and into the arena. It's the official kickoff to the rodeo and is sponsored by the Okanogan Team Penners Association.

The first night of the rodeo is Wrangler Kids Night, with events starting at 4 p.m. It's for kids 12 years of age and under, and for an hour the kids have the run of the rodeo arena. Kids can race stick horses, search through the haystack for coins, and other games. Rodeo performances traditionally are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Stampede features all the classic events, saddle bronc and bareback, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing. And of course there's bull riding, on some of the nastiest, meanest bulls around.

The suicide race follows every rodeo performance. Racers start at the top of the hill on the far side of the Okanogan River. The course is a ride down the hill, a swim across the river and into the rodeo arena. Racers compete all four days.

Friday's rodeo performance is also a fundraiser for the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign. Tough Enough to Wear Pink raises money for the fight against breast cancer.

The Indian Encampment and Pow-wow starts Thursday, with campers using the longhouse on the rodeo grounds and an authentic teepee village. Each night features dances, drumming and singing competitions and traditional Native American games. The encampment grounds are open to the public.

The Stampede Grand Parade traditionally is scheduled for Sunday, and the 2018 parade is at 10 a.m. Aug. 12. It features bands and riders, floats, classic cars and everything else that should be in a parade.

Tickets for the rodeo are available at the Stampede website, www.omakstampede.org.

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