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Rodeo association cancels parade

The Fort Dalles Rodeo Association has decided to cancel its parade — at least for this year — as a result of declining interest.

“In the last couple of years, attendance has decreased every year,” said Damon Hulit, president of the association. “Really, nobody else hardly participates other than the rodeo association and our personnel. People are losing interest and spectators downtown are becoming nil. We have five parades a year and this one is the least attended.”

It also yielded spectator complaints because it lasted only 11 minutes. Hulit said the energy that has gone into the parade can be better spent elsewhere.

Response to the announcement, which was posted on the rodeo Facebook page, included some disappointment, particularly from families with children.

“We’re not trying to do anything unkind or take away anything cheerful,” Hulit said. “A lot of thought went into this decision.”

Hulit expects the parade to return next year, for the rodeo’s 50th anniversary. The rodeo association plans to have an expanded celebration in 2015 and will be inviting royalty from past Fort Dalles Rodeos.

This year, the association will still hold its queen’s luncheon Saturday, July 19, as it has in the past.

July is a month ripe with seasonal celebrations in The Dalles, with a new one starting this year — including a parade.

“A parade honoring vets, active military, first responders and our nostalgic small-town history has always been in the works since day one, so we do intend on being the big community event to kick off a July full of activities,” said Doug Kirchhofer of the Fort Dalles Fourth celebration committee. “Ideally, we’d like to see the town evolve into a summertime destination with activities every week, something that has appeal for all ages through the summer and we hope our event starts to change the course of our community activities.”

The Fort Dalles Fourth committee is proposing a full-blown fireworks celebration over the Columbia River, plus a festival at the Lewis and Clark Festival Park on First and Union streets, along with the parade.

The second Saturday in July brings the Jammin’ July Street Fest, with rodeo weekend on the third weekend of the month.

The last weekend of July is the only break in festivities before August arrives. The first weekend of the month features the Oregon Karaoke Challenge. The second includes Cruise the Gorge Weekend and the Dufur Threshing Bee. The third weekend brings the Wasco County Fair.

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