Harley Tucker and the History of Chief Joseph Days Rodeo
Harley Tucker helped launch the first Chief Joseph Days in 1946. The first year the Rodeo was held on the East Moraine of Wallowa Lake, and the skeleton of that first arena still stands today. The Rodeo grew from its modest beginnings to one of the largest community rodeos and festivals in the northwest.
As Chief Joseph Days evolved over the years, it outgrew its initial setting, and today is held at the Harley Tucker Memorial Arena in Joseph. During Chief Joseph Days the tiny hamlet of Joseph swells from its usual 1,000 residents to nearly ten times that.
The crowds come for an authentic experience of the American West, still alive today. Many families have been coming for decades, and many people each year travel from far and wide – including the East Coast and foreign countries – to enjoy the celebration.
When he died in 1960, Tucker was one of the nation’s largest stock contractors, providing stock and producing over 25 northwest rodeos each year. Tucker was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 1997, the St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame in 1980.
The large, extended Tucker family and its descendants continue the traditions started long ago, and Tucker children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews have been active participants over the years. As Chief Joseph Days approaches its 67th year, it retains its community flavor while providing world-class entertainment.