Daily Astorian

Casey Beard has been named the first-ever paid executive in the 104-year history of the Pendleton Round-Up.

In conjunction with the Happy Canyon board, the Round-Up Association in November announced plans to hire a full-time, year-round general manager to work with both organizations. Organized as a non-profit, the rodeo is currently managed by 17 directors and powered by more than 1,500 community volunteers. Happy Canyon is a Wild West outdoor stage show that occurs in conjunction with the rodeo.

Round-Up President Tim Hawkins called Beard "the right guy at the right time as we move into the next 100 years."

Beard comes to the job with an eclectic resume. He is a retired U.S. Army officer whose assignments included serving as an exchange officer with the British Army and on General Schwarzkopf's staff during Desert Storm. Following retirement from the Army, Beard was hired by Morrow County to direct public safety programs during destruction of chemical weapons stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Most recently, Beard took a position at Blue Mountain Community College, serving on the president's cabinet as director of grants where he secured funding for new BMCC workforce development initiatives and oversaw special projects to improve educational opportunities. A graduate of Washington State University, he holds master's degrees in international business relations and strategic studies.

Beard was born into a rodeo family and managed Beard Rodeos, which provided bulls and broncs to rodeos. His grandfather raced stagecoaches at the Pendleton Round-Up. Beard also served on the national Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Board of Directors.

He said he won't have many idle moments planning and managing a four-day rodeo, the night pageant, Professional Bull Riding events and a country music concert.

"It's in the league of Cheyenne and Reno -- rodeos with big population bases and corporations to assist," Beard said.

He said he looks at his new positions as a dream job.

"It's an intersection of everything I've done in the past," he said. "It is a match, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The presidents of the two organizations are waiting with firm handshakes and welcoming smiles.

"I believe Casey brings a knowledge and understanding of rodeo and our Western heritage and culture," Hawkins said. "He also brings a diverse background that will be invaluable to our two organizations."

Until now, Round-Up and Happy Canyon have always been solely managed by separate volunteer boards.

"Hiring a general manager is a necessary step in keeping ahead of the increasing challenges we face," said Happy Canyon President Jason Hill. "We are moving forward to protect these community treasures entrusted to us, which are so vital to our economy."

Contact Kathy Aney at kaney@eastoregonian.com or call 541-966-0810.

This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.

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