Creswell's White at home on the range.
EUGENE'S PRO RODEO
Wayne White's presence at rodeos throughout the Pacific Northwest over the past three-plus decades has been as common as Stetson hats, denim jeans and well-worn boots.
Part pitchman, part businessman, part comedian and 100 percent cowboy, the 53-year-old Creswell resident is one of the region's most sought-after rodeo announcers, working 43 weekends a year primarily within Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
He broadcasts daily rodeo reports on 17 radio stations throughout the Northwest, and with his business, Wild West Events, Inc., he produces rodeos and Western-themed events.
And like any good promoter, he even has a well-known catch phrase: "If it's rodeo, you've got to be tough just to watch."
But it's his one weekend each year that he gets to spend at "home" that he cherishes the most.
For the 15th straight summer, White will be on the mike for all four days of the Eugene Pro Rodeo, which runs Saturday through the Fourth of July at the Oregon Horse Center.
"I love to have the cowboys come to Eugene," said White, who despite being an Oregon native speaks with a country twang he picked up as a young man competing in rodeos in the South. "Eugene never fails to make them guys feel welcome."
And White is a big reason why, said Oregon Horse Center owner Major Defoe.
"The thing about Wayne is, you can be a rodeo veteran of 10, 15, 20 years, and he still makes it enjoyable," Defoe said. "And believe me, you can go to other rodeos and you wonder why they're using that guy."
White has played an integral role in the growth of the Eugene Pro Rodeo, which continues to gain stature and popularity with each passing year.
"He's helpful from the ground up," Defoe said. "All the time he is looking out for his hometown rodeo."
Seven years ago, White orchestrated the first Firecracker Bullride - a one-night, bulls-only event during the EPR that has become immensely popular. Last summer, a standing-room-only crowd of 11,000 watched the Firecracker Bullride.
This year, the Firecracker Bullride is on Sunday, and White is still at the helm, hiring the judges, securing the prizes, and getting the stock contractor.
"That's our largest day, no question about it," Defoe said. "Last year they were standing around the rails. The Firecracker Bullride is just monstrous for us ... and Wayne is instrumental in getting those bullriders here because he knows everybody."
Beyond what he calls "my power of gab," White brings to his job as an announcer a lifetime worth of rodeo experiences and a love for cowboys and the cowboy experience.
White spent 10 years on the pro rodeo circuit, beginning when he was 18. Though he competed in all the rough stock events, he was primarily a bullrider.
His first shot at announcing came in 1982 when he was pulling gates during a morning slack performance and the announcer had to use the bathroom. He told White to jump on the mike.
"So I walked up there ... and I just said what I saw," White said.
A second career was born.
"Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a rodeo cowboy," White said. "There was never any doubt in my mind. They would tell me you can never make a living at that ... but I always knew that I could. It's been a pretty cool deal that it's paid off."
It's paid off because White has made it pay off. His days often start at 5 a.m. and don't end until after midnight. He regularly drives 10-11 hours to rodeos.
But his passion for rodeo hasn't wavered, and that is never more evident than when it's showtime and White has to work a packed house.
"Everybody tells me, 'You look like you're having so much fun,' ' said White, who does his announcing while sitting atop his 8-year-old former saddle bronc bucking horse, Reb. "But you can't expect people to get excited if you're not excited."
Quick with a one-liner or a good-natured shot at a cowboy, White does his best to both entertain and educate.
"I want them to understand what's happening," White said. "The fact that I can throw in a quip, that's a bonus. I'm what keeps it moving."
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|Title Annotation:||Sports; Veteran rodeo announcer enjoys spending his July Fourth holiday in Eugene|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jun 30, 2006|
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