The High Desert Stampede kicked off in full force Wednesday night and the one leading the way with the American flag was Bend’s first ever Miss Rodeo Oregon.
“Growing up I definitely had both the rural and urban influence, which we are definitely seeing a lot more in Bend as Bend is growing as a community,” said Avalon Irwin. “So getting to represent both sides of that has been really exciting.”
Irwin grew up on the High Desert and started competing on horseback in high school, joining the Bend High Equestrian team.
Last year she entered the competition to become Miss Rodeo Oregon.
“I went through different interviews, horseback riding, I got to ride a horse I had never ridden before, as well as my own horse, do lots of on stage speaking,” Irwin said. “So, lots of preparation for things like this.”
In the midst of a Pandemic that title almost past her by because of an age limitation.
“As the pandemic was going more full force they realized this isn’t going to end soon and we should make a change, so we don’t discount the people that were going to compete, so they extended the age limit and I got to compete,” she said.
She got to compete and won.
On Wednesday, she represented her hometown by kicking of the High Desert Stampede.
“I will also get to carry the American flag this year in the arena, which is a huge honor, so I am excited about that, as well as just be a representation to kids and other people interested in rodeo and want to find out more about it,” she said.
The rodeo will continue through Saturday Night at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo center in Redmond.
Irwin’s journey doesn’t stop at the High Desert Stampede.
She plans to be at both the Crooked River Round-up and Sisters rodeo this year.
Irwin is also competing for the title of Miss Rode America in December.