Plan Your Ellensburg Rodeo Stay
Ellensburg is a unique and charming Washington destination with plenty of attractions to fill your stay during the Ellensburg Rodeo! The rodeo is one of our area’s most popular local events, so be sure to book your hotel well in advance to ensure you enjoy a seamless visit to Ellensburg. While you’re here, take advantage of our many great restaurants, shops, attractions, outdoor activities, and other events for the full Ellensburg experience!
About the Ellensburg Rodeo
Located in the heart of Washington State, Ellensburg cherishes a wild west tradition. A point of pride within the community and a renowned attraction that draws visitors from across the country, the state”’s major rodeo is hosted in Ellensburg each year during 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. 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! Plan to visit the famous Ellensburg Rodeo in September to experience the excitement for yourself. Scroll down to learn more about the history of the rodeo and what all you can do during a visit to Ellensburg!
Ellensburg Rodeo History
Looking to create local business and celebrate the community, citizens of Ellensburg coordinated many group efforts to put on the first annual Ellensburg Rodeo. A big part of the Rodeo’s success was the new population of townsmen who wanted to experience a recreation of the “Wild West”, including cattle roundups. Ellensburg was an especially good fit for this event as it is in the heart of a cattle valley and many citizens could accurately recreate this event.
The three groups responsible for the business end of the Rodeo were downtown businessmen, the Yakama tribe, and the Fair Board. Advertising as “Sunday Rodeos,” the typical day saw somewhere between 100 to 300 attendees. These Sunday Rodeos were the most crucial aspect of the success of the event as they brought in the most visitors, often drawing the attention of thousands of people. The best farmers and ranchers from the community would compete in these rodeos, and it made locals excited about the idea of holding an annual rodeo to draw the larger PNW to attend.
The Rodeo took most of the summer to plan and prepare for, being held from September 13 to September 15. This event became a huge success as it encapsulated the community and the nostalgic aspects of the Wild West. Local Lilian Pope had gone on record saying that because many of the contestants were townsfolk, “it really made a difference [because] it was really more of a local show.” This is what made the Ellensburg Rodeo so successful, and to this day is still being held annually.
Visit the Kittitas County Fair
Running alongside the Ellensburg Rodeo is the Kittitas County Fair. It is a good old-fashioned county fair with games, entertainment, contests, judged exhibits, and an abundance of livestock. Experience the sounds, smells, tastes, and the feeling of memories being made! Join us every Labor Day Weekend!
Coupled with a carnival and midway to satisfy the delights of the entire family – why not make a day of it at the Fair. Come for the Rodeo but stay for the Fair and enjoy all the charm that Ellensburg has to offer.
Visit the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame
The Ellensburg Rodeo of Fame 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. When you 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. The Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame opened their doors to the public on July 3rd, 2020 and now warmly welcomes you into their space to learn a few things about the history behind the Ellensburg Rodeo.
More to Explore During Your Stay
During your time in Ellensburg, you will uncover a multitude of diverse activities to enjoy, from unique dining and local shopping, to wine or beer tasting and outdoor adventuring. We encourage you to explore our historic downtown streets to uncover intricate architecture and playful art around every turn. Visit our many art galleries and museums to soak up the history and culture of our area or sip Washington wines and locally-crafted brews at one of the many nearby tasting rooms. Make a reservation at one of our exquisite fine dining establishments or grab a burger at a beloved local drive-in. Take advantage of all our area has to offer and plan your Ellensburg escape now!