TOPPENISH — With the junior rodeo completed yesterday, everything is set for the first Delbert Wheeler Memorial Rodeo this weekend, June 1-3, at the Toppenish Rodeo grounds.

It will be accompanied by a Pow Wow on the same grounds. And there is no charge for admission.

The rodeo will be themed, and organizers ask for specific color of dress each day.

Friday will be purple day for suicide prevention, Saturday will be red day for murdered or missing Indian women awareness and Sunday will be pink day for cancer awareness

The rodeo has been around a while, but the name has been changed to honor the man who launched it several years ago.

“He was a very generous, very nice man,” said employee Colleen Martin at Kountry Korner.

“He loved the junior rodeo; he was all about the kids,” Martin said.

Wheeler, who died in 2016, was one of the most well-known entrepreneurs among the Yakama Nation.

Wheeler owned several businesses on the reservation, including King Mountain cigarettes, Kountry Korner outside of Wapato and Wheeler’s Smoke n Gas outside of Mabton.

When he died, Wheeler left his wife and family what some tribal members call a business empire. He also left them with the knowledge needed to keep going and growing.

Wheeler launched the King Mountain Indian Rodeo Association several years ago. The family and friends have kept it going, too.

Team roping events will have $6,000 added money. Most of the other events will have $3,000 added.

Until this year, this rodeo took place in White Swan. The arena filled to capacity with rodeo fans, Martin said. She expects bigger crowds in Toppenish.

“The best thing about this rodeo is no admission,” Martin said. “You can bring the whole family and have fun.”

Friday at 9 a.m. will be slack time. Regular competition will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday. Saturday and Sunday, action will resume at 1 p.m.

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