Rain poured down on Pendleton Saturday morning, but the convention center still filled with people for the annual Cattle Barons Weekend, which raises funds for scholarships and local outdoor schools.
Most of the events took place in the Pendleton Convention Center and indoor Round-Up Pavilion, so Beau Reynolds, Cattle Barons vice president, said the day went on as planned despite the uncooperative weather.
“It’s packed,” he said Saturday. “Our barbecue is suffering a bit, but everything else is going really well.”
The Buckaroo Barbecue Challenge, held in the parking lot next to the convention center, was the biggest victim of the cold rain that pelted participants for hours.
“Usually it’s sunny and hot (at the competition), or it’s sprinkled. It’s not usually like this,” said Joe Arguello, of Pendleton’s The Beef 52’s team, while wiping rain off equipment. “We’re trying to keep everything dry, and then, with the rain, the temperature drops, so you have to keep on top of it. It’s still a fun competition — even in the rain.”
Many of the teams arrived before 7 a.m. on Saturday. The overcast skies allowed the teams to set up — then the rain hit.
“I like rain until you’ve been standing in it all day,” joked Hermiston’s Don Morgan, half of the duo Grillin N Chillin. “We’ve had better weather.”
Rain poured down on the barbecue tents until just after noon, when the clouds cleared and allowed the tasters to come out and sample the fare.
Fifteen teams competed in the challenge this year, even though most of the cook time was shortened by the rain.
“This is definitely not ideal, but everyone is still out here,” Ryan Heath said, his jacket covered in rain. “The only thing that’s really going to hurt us is beer and soda sales, so that’s unfortunate.”
While the outdoor sales struggled in the rain, inside, the Brewers Challenge gave participants a variety of homebrew beers to sample.
In its third year, the Brewers Challenge brought out 13 entries across four categories: open, IPA/Pale, Amber and Dark. Greg Lytton, of Hermiston, swept both the grand champion award, for his “Hot Lips Houlihan” jalepeño beer, and the Brewer’s Choice award, for his lavender beer.
“There were a lot of really good beers. There’s some pretty good beer being grown around here,” said judge Jean-Luke Alexander, the head brewer at The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub in Pendleton. “This is a really good way to support the homebrew community.”
For the competition, beers were evaluated in a blind taste test by a panel of five judges. After the judging was complete, brewers and their guests were invited in to taste the competition and award the brewer’s choice. Alexander said having as many people provide feedback on a beer as possible is a good habit for brewers to get into.
“That’s the only way you’re going to get better,” he said. “Try to get as many opinions and possible and don’t take any of it personally. Have fun with it.”
Prodigal Son also sold beer on site for the event, and Heath said the brewery usually donates proceeds toward the charities involved in the event.
Other events included the Western Select Invitational Horse and Working Dog sale, the Northwest Farm Credit Services Ranch Rodeo Championship, the D&B Supply Tradin’ Post Trade Show, GRS Bit, Spur and Engraving Show and Sale, Pendleton Whisky Ranch Horse Championship and the Les Schwab North American Stock Saddle Bronc Championship.