>Last weekend we were in Omak which is located in North Central Washington. Chris biological father lives in an old church about eight miles north of Omak in Riverside. His girlfriend lives in the original Omak hotel (The Paperboys band wrote a song about it) and she runs the Breadline Cafe. Below a photo of the Hotel.
Last weekend was the 75th anniversary of the Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. The Stampede is a rodeo, fair and Native American pow-wow (some of the fair grounds are on Colville Indian Reservation land). We watched native dancers inside the teepee’s and ate yummy Indian tacos.
The Suicide Race started in the 1930’s as a publicity stunt and the brain child of Clair Pentz to draw interest to the annual Omak rodeo. Horses and riders numbering around twelve at a time have a 100 yards to run and then race down a 225 foot hill at a 62 degree angle. They cross the Okanogan River and end up in the stadium. From the sound of the starter gun to the end it’s over within a couple minutes. Below is a shot of the hill from across the river. This particular race was ran at 9:30 Saturday night.
The race traces it’s roots to Native American endurance races. The building in the photo above is a pump house and the local EMT’s stand in front of it in the event of an injury. Just above the pump house you can see a fence that travels the length of the hill. To the left (as you are facing it) people are allowed to line up and watch the race. Below is a look from the top of Suicide Hill looking down on the Okanogan River.
We watched a qualifying run the weekend before during the day. Below you can see just how steep the hill is.
Horses and riders as they are entering the river. If you look closely enough you can see some of the horses have no riders. Don’t worry – no one was hurt – just disqualified.
Below you can see the Okanogan river as it curves through town and the stadium the riders end up in. Just beyond the trees at the bend of the river (and across it) is Paula’s Hotel where we stay when we visit.
This race has been featured in a 1966 Disney film called “Run Appaloosa Run“.
The One Armed Bandit. Yes that really is a man on a horse on a trailer pulled by an eighteen wheeler.
No parade is over without the Shriners.