Come winter, you’ll find Ellensburg locals at the elk feeding station, where elk come up close to the Yakima River Canyon scenic route.
When autumn comes, you’ll find Brigid Clift more in her element. As the archivist for the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame, she can’t be faulted for holding a candle to the Labor Day rodeo, held since 1923 in this central Washington town, population 18,174.
She calls it the “best weekend in town,” praising not only the rodeo, but also the Western parade and the county fair. Brigid often meets up with friends behind the chutes for some good dancing.
Brigid and her husband, Kerry, operate a small cattle and sheep ranch. Even their eight-year-old Cora pitches in. At the age of five, she even started her own business feeding neighbor’s animals when they headed out of town.
When she’s not busy at the ranch, Brigid enjoys these Ellensburg spots.
Local Watering Saloon: Locals like to hang out at the First and Last Chance Tavern, which they call the F&L.
Favorite Local Cuisine: Rodeo City Bar-B-Q has great steaks, stuffed potatoes and homemade salsa. The walls are decorated with portraits of past members of the Ellensburg Rodeo Royal Court.
Historic Site Most Schoolchildren Visit: The Kittitas County Historical Museum, which features many exhibits spanning the history of the area.
Western Art Gallery: The Clymer Museum features exhibits of John Clymer, an Ellensburg native who painted American West history.
Best Spot to View Wildlife: Yakima River Canyon scenic route, from Ellensburg to Yakima, parallels the river. Here, you’ll see bald eagles, big horn sheep, deer and hawks.
Everyone Knows: Brad Fitterer, co-owner of Fitterer’s Furniture, which has been in the family since 1896.
Avg. House Cost: $216,000.
Avg. Temps: Summer: 80-51; Fall: 60-34; Winter: 36-21; Spring: 60-35.
Preservation Project: The Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame is working toward building a museum to display all its artifacts.
Favorite Cowboy Event
Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering brings the best traditional cowboy musicians, poets and artists together. You can learn everything from roping to dutch oven cooking. Bar J Wranglers (pictured) will be playing at next February’s gathering.
Special thanks to Brigid Clift, archivist for the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame, for sharing her love of the town with us.