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Girl Warrior: Omak Stampede, More than a Rodeo

In 1933 two dreamers and Okanogan County stockmen, Leo Moomaw and Tim Bernard, envisioned starting a rodeo that became the Omak Stampede. The duo had started a rodeo string in 1932 and desired to expand their vision.

A rodeo seemed to be the ticket to keep the small, western town kicking, considering it was settled in the heart of cattle country. And Omak’s businessmen were in their sights to aid in doing so. That and cowboys.

It didn’t take long for a roster of world champion cowboys to get on board. Cowboys that included Stub Bathlemay, world champion at the Calgary Roundup; Norman Stewart, both Pendleton Roundup and Cheyenne Wyoming Roundup champion and the world’s best bronc rider; Bert Evans, winner of the north-central Washington championship in 1932, to name a few.

Later the World Famous Suicide Race and Indian Encampment and Powwow were added attractions.

The Indian Encampment features an authentic tipi village, dancing competitions, drumming and singing competitions, and the historical Indian stick games. Dancers in regalia are a dazzling, colorful sight – a delight for all to enjoy.

Carnival rides and barbecues are large attractions at the stampede and so is JJ Harrison, one of the most sought-after rodeo clowns in the Northwest.


Excerpt from Girl Warrior

I lean back against the trailer and catch my breath. What am I doing? I’ve let him totally get me off track. I throw the brush in the tack room and plop down on the floor of the tack room. After a few moments to calm my nerves, I lead Rooster over to the vet. He checks him over and gives me a thumbs up. I walk him back to relax and get a drink. I check the tack again, combing over every centimeter.

“Why don’t you go for a walk?” Craig says. “Walk off your nerves.”

I jump at his voice. So does Rooster.

“I’ve been watching you. You’re a mess. Go find something…get a grip.”

I agree and march off to the gate. At this point, there is no reason to be in a hurry. I wander around, looking at the vendor booths outside the arena. My mind mulls over the threats. What would he try next? Or Who? I spot Old Lady Sherman and grunt. Slink over, pretending I don’t see her. She reaches for a bag. I snatch it first. She glares at me, her face forming a judgmental grin.

She searches my face. “You really are doing this, with no regard to your safety?”

I nod, handing her the bag. “Yes, ma’am. I am.”

“Well, you certainly fooled us.” She lifts her chin and slithers to the other end of the booth.

I snicker while running a finger along the vendor’s bling-covered table and walk off. When making my way to the next booth my eyes fixate on a figure with red hair, weaving in and out of the crowd that’s already gathering. Hahoolawho. I step out into a clear spot. He sees me and glares. He walks a straight line and stops in front of me, nose to nose.

“I bet by now you think pretty highly of yourself.” Hagan scrutinizes every inch of me with his steely gaze.

I push him backward. “I’ve had enough of you.” I curl my fingers into a fist.

“You won’t finish. They’ll make sure of it.”

I push past him.

I’d like to invite you to this year’s stampede August 9-12. 

There is still time to buy Omak Stampede Rodeo tickets: 

Don’t miss out on your copy of Girl Warrior!

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  1. Great description of the Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. Girl Warrior also describes it in vivid detail. Congratulations, Carmen.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Mary! I appreciate that.