ELLENSBURG RODEO POSSE
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THE ELLENSBURG RODEO POSSE: A long history
by Oscar Berger, posse historian
"Rodeo Posse Roots Run Deep to Support the Ellensburg Rodeo
and the Kittitas County Fair."
The Ellensburg Rodeo Posse was the brainchild of Dr. John P. Richardson and Clifford Kaynor, the former owner of the Daily Record and the then president of the Ellensburg Rodeo Association board of directors. Richardson, a physician had made several trips to California on business and had the opportunity to view the famed San Francisco Sheriff's Posse, which was well-known throughout the country as they appeared at most major parades and horse shows. He made several personal contacts and visits with them and his intent was to develop a posse that would be special to the local rodeo, be attractive and be used as an advertising tool to help sell the Ellensburg Rodeo throughout the state.

Many of the first 26 members of the Ellensburg Rodeo Posse were wearing two hats because several of these prominent cattle, business and professional men were also members of the Rodeo board.

The idea for a posse got started in 1939 and after many meetings, the group got started and made its' first debut in the 1941 Ellensburg Rodeo Parade. The group was formed and the Washington State Secretary of State signed their organization charter in 1941 as the first recognized state posse association. The group enjoyed quite a success, but the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, came only three months after that well-accepted debut, would cause a halt to the rodeo.

Later, at the request of state and federal officials, the rodeo had to be called off due to gas shortages. This did not stop the Posse, as it stepped right up to the challenge and formed a huge horse show and pageant in the arena of the Kittitas County Fairgrounds to replace the annual Labor Day weekend rodeo.

The community was very supportive and the volunteers were numerous, which still makes this rodeo what it is today. This continued in 1942, 1943 and 1944, and the rodeo board was given the green light to again produce its' rodeo in 1945.

To this day, the Ellensburg Rodeo Posse has continued to host a horse/ night show every Sunday night during the Labor Day weekend. The posse continues to travel throughout the state carrying four prominent flags representing the City of Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Kittitas County Fair and the Ellensburg Rodeo Posse. In 2007, we added an additional flag, that of the Ellensburg Rodeo Association. The Posse members are the official escorts of the Ellensburg Rodeo Royal Court. Truly, these men are "Ambassadors on Horseback" as they make their way down parade routes with those bright yellow shirts and tack while all riding sorrel horses.

These fellows can also be seen on Tuesday evenings after the 10th of April practicing their games and drill at the rodeo arena.

On other occasions they can be found trucking hundreds of miles to make appearances in the Wenatchee Apple Blossom Parade, the Spokane Lilac Festival Parade, Cle Elum Pioneers Day Parade, Easton Memorial Day Parade, Olympia's "Washington State Lotto" Grand Twilight Parade and the Seattle Seafair Torchlight Parade, and of course, the Ellensburg Rodeo performances and the Ellensburg Rodeo Parade. In addition, the Posse makes appearances, time permitting, at other parades such as the Moses Lake Memorial Day Parade, Toppenish Pow-Wow Parade, Winthrop, Omak Stampede and at the Emerald Downs racetrack on Boeing Day. The group also sponsors an annual Poker Run in early June every year.

Throughout the year, the Posse co-sponsors along with the Kittitas County Fair Board two (2) Youth Horse Shows for the young horse enthusiasts of the Kittitas Valley with awards going to young people from the results of the combined shows.

The Posse also sponsors a Kittitas County Junior Rodeo, open to Kittitas County residents under 18, a week prior to the big rodeo each year in the rodeo arena. There have been many years when the contestant list has far exceeded 150 contestants.

The Posse sells plaques advertising the Junior Rodeo and the horse shows to local merchants. One-half of the funds raised are used for two or three $1000 scholarships to graduating seniors planning to attend a trade school or a university of higher education.

The Ellensburg Rodeo Posse, now at 50 members strong, is a very dedicated, hardworking group of young and old men that enjoy each others fellowship, working the rodeo races and riding the grand entries, organizing a Posse Sunday night show and doing just what Dr. Richardson and Cliff Kaynor envisioned as they formed this unit---being a tool to help promote and sell the beautiful Kittitas Valley, the City of Ellensburg and its' Ellensburg Rodeo and Kittitas County Fair.