The weather is warming up nicely, and as surely as Fall’s cooling trend brings anticipation of holidays, the Summer heat starts one thinking of rodeo season. In this valley, there is one particular rodeo that holds the attention and expectation of most fans, and given its place as the first “big” rodeo of the Summer, everyone sets their eyes to Nampa and the Snake River Stampede!

This is not a new phenomenon by any means, either. The Stampede has been doing their thing almost as long as rodeo itself has been in existence. While the history of rodeo as a sport is somewhat hazy, it is generally accepted that it didn’t really become the sporting event that we recognize until around the turn of the 19th century. Our hometown rodeo started as part of Nampa’s Harvest Festival in 1915, making it one of the oldest, longest-running rodeos in what is now the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

The Stampede has been through many changes on its journey to the way it appears today, some of which have been mocked, scorned, and spurned, but then again, what really hasn’t changed in 99 years? The initial competitions were held in the current Downtown area, with crowds gathering around a humble, roped-off section of ground (apparently insurance liability wasn’t such a big concern in great-granddad’s day), gradually growing into its own full-blown venue on Garrity Blvd. The Stampede, always growing, and progressing, moved into its current location at the Idaho Center nearly twenty years ago, and has established itself as one of the premiere rodeos in the country there.

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It’s not just the locals who look forward to the green and yellow decor every year, though. Participants are always anxious for this rodeo, and maybe more so than those who just interested in the entertainment. For professional riders and ropers, whose career and livelihood depend on the rodeo, the opportunity to compete in one of the highest paying rodeos in the west is an opportunity indeed. Combine that with the fact that they’ll be competing alongside stock from the Cervi Championship Rodeo Company that is universally deemed among the very best in the business, and doing their jobs in a venue as classy as the Idaho Center makes it desirable all-around.

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This year will bring many of the same familiar things we expect from the Stampede, along with a few new sights and sounds as well. From the Buck-a-Roo Breakfast and Stampede Parade through Downtown to the baritone drawl of announcer Boyd Polhamus, and from the Stampeders drill team through Wednesday’s “Tough Enough To Wear Pink” night, there will be many of the things we’ve come to expect. Some other things, not so steeped in tradition, will be back, such as the “Cowboy Corral” outside the venue providing live music every night after the indoors fun is completed. (This will include a Friday night performance by Riverbilly supporting awareness of domestic abuse and advocating community assistance.)  Keep your eyes open for some new entertainment on the arena floor from the bullfighting and specialty acts, and of course, some of the brightest up-and-coming cowboys and cowgirls in town for their shot at the big paycheck

In case you haven’t done the math, the centennial celebration is in line for 2015, and that sounds like an extra cherry on top of what is already a heck of a sweet show. The 2014 edition hasn’t even pulled a chute yet, but I’m already psyched for next year’s Stampede! Let’s rodeo!

See more pictures from the D&B fans on the D&B Facebook page by clicking here. Share your 2014 Snake River Stampede pictures by tagging them in Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #SnakeRiverStampede.

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