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War Bonnet Round Up kicks off Wednesday with free event at Sandy Downs

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – Idaho’s Oldest Rodeo, The War Bonnet Round Up, is gearing up to kick off its 110th year of rodeo festivities with a bit of a twist.

On the day before the rodeo, organizers have traditionally held a mini version of the rodeo events in downtown Idaho Falls; however, this year, the rodeo has decided to hold that celebration at Sandy Downs.

“Last year we weren’t able to celebrate, so we wanted this year to be bigger and better to welcome back all our great rodeo fans,” said Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Director PJ Holm. “We loved our downtown event, but this gives us a much bigger footprint to host more activities and games and allows us to showcase rodeo events that just weren’t possible there.”

The Idaho Falls Park and Recreation has dedicated tons of time to be able to produce this annual affair. There is so much that goes into each invididual sector of the rodeo such as the tickets, the vendors, the sales, the cattle, and the contestants themselves. PJ has stated himself that "there is never a time throughout the year that we are not working on the war bonnet." With last year's rodeo being cancelled, this year's events have been planned out for the past two years. They are expected crowds to quickly pack in the stands.

"The rodeo is one of those (things) that you pay to play," Executive Producer Kassi Jones said. "You're never guaranteed a check so these contestants come with their A game and this packed house is gonna love it."

The kickoff will have expanded games, events and activities for kids of all ages. Plus, since the activities will take place at Sandy Downs, there will be even more free rodeo action.

All of the events for the kickoff celebration will be free for attendees, and gates will open at 4:30 p.m. and events will run until 8:30 p.m.

For kids, there will be mutton busting in addition to a lamb scramble and a calf scramble. There will also be great mini bull riding action as well as large bull riding. The Idaho Falls Jr. War Bonnet Posse will also be doing a live, competitive skills demonstration.

There will also be food vendors, a dunk tank and War Bonnet merchandise vendors. War Bonnet tickets will be available for sale as well as raffle tickets for War Bonnet prizes. There will also be a special kids’ zone for children with activities like wood crafts, a milk jug toss, corn hole and other activities.

“This is going to be a real celebration of the return of the War Bonnet Round Up. War Bonnet Royalty will be there, there will be food and fun and just an all-around great time,” Holm said “We hope all of East Idaho will turn out to help celebrate with us.”

The War Bonnet Round Up, Idaho’s Oldest Rodeo, will kick off on Thursday, August 5 and run through Saturday, August 7. Gates will open each night at 4:30 p.m. Thursday night will be Family Night, sponsored by KIFI Local News 8, and tickets for children ages three to 10 are $10. Children two and under are free. Children’s prices are for all three evenings.

Friday will be the annual “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, sponsored by EIRMC, and attendees are encouraged to wear pink. Saturday will be Military Salute Night sponsored by the American Legion and Toyota, with special presentations honoring our nation’s veterans and active-duty military.  

Tickets for Thursday and Friday are $20 and Saturday is $25. Military and veteran discounts are available. Prices are for tickets purchased in advance. Ticket sales at the gate will have an additional cost. Tickets are available online and at local War Bonnet Round Up sponsors including Teton Toyota, Vickers, Cal Ranch and the Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation Offices. Visit https://warbonnetroundup.org for additional ticket information.

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Evan Thomason

Evan is the weekend meteorologist and reporter.

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