Dayton Days rodeo shelved by virus

Organizers decided to postpone because of a quarantine urged by state officials.


DAYTON -- The equine herpes virus, EHV-1, has struck a severe blow to horse-related events. The latest victim is the Dayton Days rodeo, which was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

The Dayton Days board decided Tuesday to postpone the rodeo in order to honor the quarantine strongly recommended by state veterinarian officials.

As painful as the postponement is to event organizers, "if we cooperate we hope to keep it (the quarantine) to three to four weeks instead of all summer," Dayton Days Treasurer Melissa Hansen said this morning.

The Dayton Days board planned to meet with Columbia County Commissioners this morning to identify an alternate date to hold the rodeo. The target for rescheduling is July 8-10, Hansen said.

This is the second time Dayton Days organizers have had to regroup. The first time came in February, when the state Racing Commission announced they would not provide purses for pari-mutuel racing for Dayton Days, Days of Real Sport in Waitsburg and Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days.

This is the 93rd year for Dayton Days.

Not all events have been canceled, Hansen said. The queen's coronation will be held Friday night at the fairground pavilion. Admission is $15 per person or $20 per couple.

Beka Adams of Waitsburg will be crowned queen during the event.

Saturday events include a 10 a.m. Main Street parade, without horse entries. The traditional queen's luncheon will follow the parade.

Other weekend events that will be held include the Touchet River Run will be Monday with registration starting at 8 a.m. at the Dayton School District gym. A shortened 1.4-mile course, and the standard 3.89-mile course will be run. The Dayton Middle School Track team sponsors the run as a fundraiser.

Online registration is available until Friday at

Carrie Chicken can be reached at or 522-5289.

A Widespread Problem

The highly contagious equine herpes virus is believed to have spread from the National Cutting Horse Association's national championships in Ogden, Utah, in late April and early May.

As of Wednesday six positive cases of the virus had been confirmed, with one case each in Thurston, Spokane, Chelan and Asotin counties and two cases in Whitman County according to the Washington State Veterinarian Association.

There have been three confirmed cases in Oregon, including one in Umatilla County.

Nationwide 44 cases have been confirmed in nine western states.


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