Denis Fast, Chairman
Meet Denis Fast, the High Desert Stampede’s Chairman of the Board. Denis graduated from Willamette University with a degree in political science. He’s the father of 8 having adopted 4 children from the foster care system.
Contrary to his father’s wishes, he became a rancher rather than a farmer. Now with more than 40 years in the industry, Denis can’t imagine doing it any other way. He loves what he does, currently owning and operating Fast Cattle Ranches, which includes the beautiful Sky Hawk Ranch (a great local spot to board and train horses!) as well as a yearling operation on multiple ranches in Central and Eastern Oregon.
Denis has long enjoyed finding new ways to compete. Sometimes this was on the field, court or arena dirt, but he was often the instigator if he could make a game out of it. Many know Denis as the High School Basketball coach of 20 years. Others know him as a competitor in Ranch sorting and Team penning both regionally and nationally. He even helped form and create the first team penning organization in the Pacific Northwest.
Last, Denis’ strong sense of community, volunteerism and philanthropy echo the sentiments of the entire board. As a whole, we work year-round to bring the High Desert Stampede to Redmond, Oregon the last weekend of spring break every year for each of you. We hope you enjoy the quality livestock, performances and the entertaining rodeo action, but also hope to keep a little western heritage alive and well. Further, our aims are to elevate the sport of rodeo by developing community interest and providing education making it a truly professional sport. Long term, we’d also like to see the rigorous demands of making a living as a professional rodeo athlete lessened so that our athletes can live more typical lifestyles with fewer days on the road away from their families. While we continue to do our part, we thank each of you, our ticket purchasers and each of our community sponsors for helping us achieve these goals!
Jerry Bannon, Director
Jerry Bannon was born and raised in Prineville, Oregon and went to college at Eastern Oregon University where he received a degree in Education. After graduating, he was drawn back to his roots in Central Oregon, ultimately returning to teach for the Redmond School District for 20 years.
Jerry is our most seasoned board member, knowing the ins and outs of the arena, rodeo production and the challenges of competition professionally. As a competitor, himself, he learned how challenging and rewarding rodeo can be through the hard times and good times. It was when Jerry attended EOU that he first got to be part of the production team for the college rodeo. After the rodeo was done Jerry learned that he was much better as a rodeo producer than he was as a competitor in the arena. Since that first college rodeo production, he has held many different committee roles and produced numerous rodeos. Some highlights include: High School Rodeo advisor for 20 years, Columbia River Circuit Finals rodeo for 13 years, and State & National High School Rodeo Director. We are honored to have Jerry as an integral part of our High Desert Stampede board with all his expertise and experience.
Jen Smalling, Director
Introducing Jennifer Smalling. Jen grew up in Pendleton, Oregon inside the Pendleton Round-Up. She gives ‘growing up rodeo’ it’s definition, having experienced all facets of it - competing, planning, producing and working rodeo her whole life. Both inside the arena and out, Jen’s experience brings insight and connections to our board that are unique and practical. She knows everyone in the world of rodeo and often volunteers in different capacities for other rodeos throughout the state besides the High Desert Stampede.
Winter of 2004, Jen decided it was time for a change and moved to Redmond, Oregon. When not working on rodeo or volunteering at an event, you can find her with her daughter, Emmie Grace, often enjoying time with friends and exploring outdoors.
Jen is our vice chairman and works primarily with sponsors for the High Desert Stampede. When initially asked to join, Jen was excited about the opportunity to bring the High Desert Stampede to Central Oregon and to further the sport of rodeo, introducing athletes to the community and expanding awareness and interest.
She also requested a special “Thank You” go out to all the volunteers that make this a world class event. Simply that we can’t do it without them. From all of us at the High Desert Stampede – THANK YOU!
Chad Morris, Director
Meet our youngest board member, Chad Morris. Having grown up in the Willamette Valley but vacationing in Central Oregon, it didn’t take Chad and his new bride much time to pack up and move to Bend, Oregon. Within a three month period, both graduated college, were married and moved to Bend to enjoy the beer, hiking, camping, fishing and mountain air we’re famous for. Eleven years and two kids later, they haven’t looked back.
After graduating from Oregon State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Health Care Administration, Chad began a career in the Criminal Justice system here in Central Oregon working for both the State of Oregon and Deschutes County for over 8 years. Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug long before entering the public sector, he slowly built his own business, Fervent Media, on the side. Early in 2015 Chad decided to take the leap and work for himself full-time.
With virtually no exposure to rodeo, Chad began volunteering for the High Desert Stampede at the invitation of a distant relative and then Board Member, Alan Loftesness. Assisting with the marketing efforts Chad quickly demonstrated he was a team player capable of much more. He brings an “outsider” entrepreneurial and analytical perspective to the board. The father of two still enjoys getting out in the mountain air but now he also enjoys learning the rodeo way of life in Central Oregon.
Greg Ego, Sec/Tres
Board member Greg Ego from Keizer, Oregon received a Bachelors of Science in Criminology from Southern Oregon University in 1977. Since then he has owned and operated family businesses including Rasmussen Spray Service for over 25 years.
His love for all things horses and rodeo came from his grandfather who lived in Prineville, Oregon when Greg was growing up.
At the same time the family farm outside of Sweet Home, Oregon had more than a dozen horses to ride. Sometimes the whole neighborhood would join in riding and enjoying these horses.
Greg, and his wife Debbie, worked the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association - NPRA rodeo circuit as volunteers and sponsors in the early 1990’s. Fast forward to 2015 where Greg worked the first ever High Desert Stampede driving tractor, moved livestock and opening gates. There he connected with the rodeo directors and was later invited to join them as they put on the first ever ERA Rodeo in the Spring of 2016.
Greg currently volunteers as the Secretary/Treasurer for the High Desert Stampede and is responsible for ticketing, banking and insurance, sponsor and vendor tracking and service contracts for rodeo contractors.
Janell Dalton, Director
Meet Janell Dalton, long time volunteer who was recently promoted to board member. Janell might be new to the High Desert Stampede Board of Directors, but she comes to us with home town knowledge and demonstrated capacity & determination. She’s been an outstanding volunteer the past few years and was invited to join the board because of her poise under pressure.
Janell was raised in Prineville, Oregon and worked for home town business, Les Schwab Tire Centers for 25 years. Janell is very passionate about working with the High Desert Stampede to bring top quality rodeo action to Central Oregon.
In Janell’s downtime, you can find her watching the Seattle Seahawks, hunting, fishing, hanging out with her friends or spending time with her boys! We are excited to have Janell as part of the HDS Family.
Dan Swearingen, Director
If you've been to the High Desert Stampede, you've seen Dan and his posse of Elite Experience Ambassadors greeting attendees, answering questions and helping people find their way. Originally from the Drain and Yoncalla area in the Willamette Valley, Dan has recently joined the board after being a long time volunteer demonstrating persistent excellence that could only come from a life of service.
Dan served three years of active duty Army, later joining the Army Reserves becoming an infantry Drill Sergeant. He taught both basic training and Drill Sergeant School for thirteen years deploying on multiple tours of duty. After serving in Iraq, Dan retired as a First Sergeant with 26 years of military service where he earned numerous awards and accommodations. As if this wasn't enough, Dan served Deschutes County for 30 years in various roles for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office because he says, "the military didn't keep me busy enough". From forest patrol and search and rescue to accident reconstruction, Dan eventually retired in 2010 as a Patrol Sergeant.
Now retired, Dan continues his service by dedicating his time to the Band of Brothers (Prineville, Oregon Chapter) where he provides Military Honors at veteran's funeral services, building and donating accessibility ramps and providing transportation services to veterans to attend medical appointments.
Somehow, in addition to all of this, Dan has competed or volunteered for various rodeos throughout the state, most recently the Columbia River Circuit Finals and the High Desert Stampede. We're still trying to dig up video of his wild cow milking go. Today, Dan can usually be found camping, hunting and fishing in Central Oregon with his wife Rebecca. Please shake Dan's hand and thank him for his service at the rodeo!
Lane Lehrke, Director
Lane was raised in the small town of Lafayette, Colorado. He attended college in Idaho at Boise State University where he played baseball. Eventually coming to his senses, he moved to Oregon in 1987. Lane has always exemplified a competitive spirit and a strong sense of community volunteerism.
Transplanted from Salem to Bend in 2001 he raised two children who both graduated from Mountain View High School. During this time, the kids were involved in High School Rodeo. Lane was a proud volunteer in many different aspects of making rodeo available to younger generations. This love of rodeo also extended to St. Paul, where Lane volunteered for many years.
Currently, he is serving as President of the Cascade Team Penning Association. Lane continues to organize and promote competitive horse sports that he has loved his entire life. Having grown up roping, much of his spare time is now spent penning and sorting, hunting and golfing.
Notably, Lane recently completed work on the Oregon State University Cascades campus as the project’s superintendent. Lane has continued to serve our community by extending his professional experience in construction management while volunteering on Habitat for Humanity Blitz Builds and working with the Boy’s and Girls Club of Bend.
As our most recent board addition, we’re excited to welcome Lane and to put him to work!