9 Things to Do During Rodeo Weekend in Ellensburg, WA

Ellensburg, Washington, cherishes a Western tradition, hosting the state’s major rodeo each year over Labor Day weekend. The Ellensburg Rodeo has been a town tradition since 1923, is the largest rodeo in Washington State, and is known as one of the best rodeos in North America. A weekend-long celebration, there are so many fun activities happening around Ellensburg during this time. Uncover some of the top ways to enjoy Ellensburg during your visit over rodeo weekend, get your rodeo tickets, and book your stay to experience this essential Ellensburg event this Labor Day!

Visit the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame

Prior to your night at the Ellensburg Rodeo, you may want to learn a little more about the history behind the famous event. To gain some historical perspective, visit the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame, a member of the Western Culture & Art Center. This is a historical exhibit that was created to cultivate and celebrate the lasting history of the Ellensburg Rodeo. Members of the foundation work hard to maintain the traditions and heritage that encompass what the Ellensburg Rodeo represents. During your visit, you will be able to view traditional regalia, admire heroes of the past, and learn about rodeo terminology that is still used to this day. Featured exhibits celebrate the founding of the rodeo, women in the Ellensburg Rodeo, the role of Indians, trick riders and clowns, ropers, All-Around Champions, specialty acts, the inducted animals that reached national fame, and much more.

Photo courtesy of Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame
Photo courtesy of Flirt

Shop for a Rodeo-Inspired Outfit

If you’re planning to attend one of the best rodeos in the nation, you’ll need to dress the part! Luckily Ellensburg’s local shops are happy to help outfit you in their best hats, boots, and denim for a classic rodeo ensemble. Click below to explore shopping opportunities in Ellensburg, Washington!

Dance at Hoedown in the Downtown

Hoedown in the Downtown is an Ellensburg tradition that marks the start of the famous Ellensburg Rodeo! This free, family-friendly celebration includes live music, dancing, and a beer and wine garden in Rotary Pavilion. It’s sure to be a boot kickin’ good time!

Go to the Kittitas County Fair

An Ellensburg tradition for 135 years, the Kittitas County Fair is held in conjunction with the Ellensburg Rodeo and is a must-experience attraction! It is a good, old-fashioned county fair with games, entertainment, contests, judged exhibits, and an abundance of livestock. Explore agriculture, livestock, and homemade goods exhibits, and enjoy various entertainment, rides, and delicious food over Labor Day weekend in Ellensburg!

Attend the First Friday Art Walk

The Ellensburg First Friday Art Walk showcases a variety of art forms on a monthly basis. Hosted by galleries and non-traditional spaces around town, you’ll find yourself in local wine bars, museums, clothing boutiques, and other fun locations in Ellensburg. This event honors local artists and their work and allows participants to tour our historic downtown as they stroll from venue to venue to enjoy the art on display. Along the way, you’ll enjoy visual and performing arts, including paintings, sculptures, live music, and more! This lovely event is held on the first Friday of each month, including the Friday of Labor Day weekend.

Overlook the Rodeo Arena at Reed Park

Reed Park sits upon Craig’s Hill above the Ellensburg Rodeo arena and provides a great bird’s-eye view of Ellensburg, the Kittitas County Fairgrounds, Central Washington University’s campus, the Kittitas Valley, and the Stuart Mountain Range. This Ellensburg viewpoint is easily accessible, making it perfect for bringing kids along, and offers a surreal experience as you overlook the arena with excitement of what’s to come when night falls.

Attend the Western Parade

The Ellensburg Rodeo Parade has become a popular “western tradition” within the community and for its visitors. Marching through the streets of Ellensburg’s historic downtown, the parade features intricate floats, horses, bands, and more of your favorite parade acts.

Photo courtesy of Klucking Images

Explore the Ellensburg Farmers Market

Held every Saturday through October, the Ellensburg Farmers Market brings dozens of vendors to the streets of downtown Ellensburg for your shopping enjoyment. This lively market is a beloved local tradition that brings fresh produce, baked goods, and fine handcrafted products to shoppers. Some popular vendors sell macarons, handmade kitchenware, bath and body products, fresh flowers, textile pieces, and specialty wines. The Ellensburg Farmers Market is always a big hit and a wonderful way to begin your morning in Ellensburg. Join in on the farmers market fun from 9am to 1pm every Saturday, May through October, including Labor Day weekend!

Go to the Rodeo, of course!

Last but not least, you must attend the Ellensburg Rodeo when in town over Labor Day weekend! The Ellensburg Rodeo has been a town tradition since 1923. It is the largest rodeo in Washington State and is known as one of the best rodeos in North America. An essential Ellensburg experience for any traveler, the Ellensburg Rodeo has earned its title as one of America’s Top 10 Professional Rodeos. Held every Labor Day Weekend, the event has grown from a local competition among ranch hands to the professional event it is today, featuring over 600 contestants and prize money exceeding $400,000! The men and women who founded the Ellensburg Rodeo in 1923 were ranchers, farmers, American Indians, and community-minded citizens working to preserve and celebrate a vanishing frontier way of life. From their efforts, Washington State’s world-famous Ellensburg Rodeo was born, and we celebrate our Western roots more than ever. The rodeo is now the pride of Ellensburg, bringing together the best riders, ropers, and wrestlers to compete in what many consider to be the best rodeo arena in the nation! Book your hotel now for the upcoming event to take part in our historic rodeo.