High Desert Stampede History
Early in 2014, a small group of experienced rodeo producers, athletes and local business owners set out to elevate the world of professional rodeo while Bringing You the Stars. Countless hours, volunteers and community partners delivered the first ever High Desert Stampede in September 2015.
Late in 2015, relationships established with John Growney of Growney Brothers Rodeo and others led to a new opportunity that had never before been available to a rodeo committee. Aiming to deliver the top athletes in each event in a championship type tour, the Elite Rodeo Athletes (ERA) was set to launch an unprecedented shift in the rodeo world. The directors of the High Desert Stampede jumped at the opportunity to be a part of rodeo history. Never before had they been able to guarantee the appearance of so many top athletes and animal athletes!
Just 78 days after being sanctioned by the new association, the second High Desert Stampede kicked off the first ever ERA Premier Tour on March 25 & 26, 2016. The entire world was watching and Redmond didn’t disappoint. The energy in the standing room only arena was palpable. World champion athletes and animals performed at the top of their game leaving everyone drooling for more.
Financial backing, legal challenges and lackluster attendance at the remaining ERA Premier Tour stops led to the suspension of the 2017 season and ultimately the ERA. The High Desert Stampede committee was left on another short timeline to produce the next installment of rodeo. Quickly sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) the directors set out to put on another high-quality production focused on a modern take of traditional rodeo. They aimed to achieve their goal by creating a fast-paced entertaining show around traditional rodeo events.
New rodeos are unusual. New nationwide top 60 rodeos are unheard of. The High Desert Stampede was awarded the 2019 Medium Rodeo of the Year for the Columbia River Circuit in recognition of these achievements.
Now the fastest growing rodeo in the United States, the High Desert Stampede faced new challenges in the COVID pandemic. Being located in Oregon, we had to overcome some of the strictest and longest lasting lockdowns in the nation. Just two weeks prior to our 2020 rodeo, Governor Brown shuttered businesses, schools and communities throughout the entire state. Like everyone else, we were forced to cancel our 2020 rodeo.
Down but not out, the High Desert Stampede joined forces with Bridwell Pro Rodeos, Sisters Rodeo and Crooked River Roundup in September 2020 to help produce the Cascade Chute Out in the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Juniper Arena. Held outside and with additional safety protocols, not a single case of COVID was attributed to being spread during this event. Further, our circuit cowboys and cowgirls needed at least one circuit rodeo to qualify for Circuit Finals and potentially the NFR this year. Our community came out huge! Sponsors, volunteers and fans alike all supported in every way they could and kept offering to go above and beyond to make this event happen!
Fresh off the success of the Cascade Chute Out, the High Desert Stampede looked to move back indoors at the First Interstate Bank Center to hold their now traditional spring rodeo. COVID safety protocols and lockdown orders still prevented a ‘normal’ rodeo, but with the vision of partners at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo, a compliant plan was born. Rodeo was held – and sold out – indoors March of 2021 with 8 separate venues defined and physically separated inside the First Interstate Bank Center. Fans, athletes and contractors can’t stop thanking the High Desert Stampede for going twice when nobody else would.
Now, beyond this latest round of challenges (we hope!), the High Desert Stampede set its sights on growing and continuing to increase our added money and number of opportunities for our athletes of all levels! Now three full performances plus a rough stock special section, the 2022 High Desert Stampede opened doors to sold out plus standing room only ticket goers.
New in 2023 the High Desert Stampede has crowned our first ever queen. We're pleased to include Allie Nuhring as your inaugural Miss High Desert Stampede!
In a few short years, we've become an anticipated Central Oregon tradition, because we're new, different and focused on bringing rodeo to everyone. We will continue Bringing You the Stars! See you at the rodeo!