HAINES, Ore. — When Bill and Colleen Taylor look across the Haines Stampede Rodeo arena, their gazes see beyond the expanse of sand and bucking chutes and speakers.
They see children learning how to hammer nails.
They see a rodeo attendee asking to scatter ashes of the beloved dog which he won in this very place.
They see their granddaughters in a barrel racing contest — one of the few events that Colleen has actually seen in 30-plus years of volunteering with the rodeo.
“There are so many stories out here,” Colleen said.
“Our kids and grandkids have grown up in this arena,” Bill added.
The Haines Stampede arena, so quiet on June 28, was expected be full of action in a few days for the annual rodeo on July 3 and 4.
The Taylors were to be honored as grand marshal and queen at the Haines Fourth of July parade at 10 a.m. on Monday. They were also celebrated at a potluck dinner on Wednesday.
The rodeo life is essential to the Taylors.
Bill grew up in Fossil, in Wheeler County.
“Every Saturday night we’d rope steers,” he said.
Colleen grew up in Pendleton — the place of a certain well-known rodeo.
“I worked at the Pendleton Round-Up,” she said. “It’s a family — you make friends, and you’re friends forever.”
The Taylors, who have been married 51 years, met at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.
“She asked me out,” Bill says with a smile.
They moved often with Bill’s job as track inspector with Union Pacific Railroad, but settled just outside of Haines in the late 1980s.
At that point, the Stampede, a Haines tradition which dates to 1915, wasn’t happening.
In 1990, a group of volunteers decided to resurrect the July event. The first rodeo, in the Stampede’s current location on the east side of Highway 30 just south of Haines, happened in 1991.
“Enough people showed an interest to get organized and start doing the rodeo again,” Bill said.
In the ensuing three decades he has served as president, vice president, and as a board member. He’s currently the historian, and is helping develop an exhibit about the Stampede at the Eastern Oregon Museum in Haines.
Colleen has been the rodeo’s treasurer for about 20 years.
After its revival, the rodeo was only one day, on July 4. It soon expanded to two days, and is now scheduled every year for July 3 and 4.
It is an open show, which means both amateurs and professionals can enter.
“That’s fun — you don’t know who’s coming out of the chute next,” Colleen said.
When the rodeo first expanded to two days, the action was held during the day.
“But it’s hay season,” Colleen said. “So we added a night show.”
The first day, Sunday, July 3, has slack at 9 a.m. and the rodeo starts at 5 p.m. All tickets sold that night are donated to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Portland.
On Monday, July 4, the rodeo starts at 1:30 p.m. — after the Fourth of July festivities in Haines, which include a fun run, breakfast, parade, barbecue and art in the park.
Rodeo admission is $10 adults and $5 for ages 5-10.
The holiday culminates with a fireworks show at 10 p.m. funded by the Friends of Haines.
Bill retired 11 years ago after 38 years with Union Pacific.
Colleen retired 10 years ago from working at US Bank.
They spend a lot of hours at the rodeo grounds, or working on rodeo business.
“We wonder how we got all this done when we were working,” Colleen said with a laugh.
But they are quick to recognize the many, many volunteers who make the Stampede possible.
“We have a good group of volunteers,” Bill said. “The whole group works at something year-round.”
And there is always something to work on — this year, the arena has a new, elevated area accessible to wheelchairs.
That project happened with lots of volunteers and donations, Bill said.
“There aren’t many people in this valley we can’t call if we need something,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are willing to step up and make things happen.”
Numerous banners showcase sponsors that support the rodeo.
“This arena, the whole thing, is full of banners,” Colleen said. “We have a great community.”
The rodeo pays out, on average, $43,000 to participants.
“We write all the checks the day of the Fourth,” Colleen said. “Hopefully they spend some of it here.”
“Our whole intent is to enhance the city of Haines,” Bill said.
Any improvements to the grounds are funded by the Demolition Derby, which happens Aug. 6 at the rodeo grounds.
And there are always projects that need funded.
“We’re already thinking of next year’s projects,” Bill said. “There are a lot of things in the works.”
Colleen, the treasurer, smiles at that, and adds:
“We’ll see how the budget goes.”