PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--When Portland-based photojournalist Ivan McClellan began documenting Black rodeos in 2015, he never imagined that he would be hosting his own large-scale rodeo. Yet on June 17, 2023, midway through the month-long Juneteenth celebration, McClellan, along with Councilor Vince Jones-Dixon of the City of Gresham, and a team of volunteers will bring a rodeo back to Portland’s Expo Center for the first time since the days of the Multnomah County Fair there. The Eight Seconds Juneteenth Rodeo will host 2,500 people to an event that will immerse its audience in the western lifestyle that includes barrel racing, bull riding, cocktails, cowboys, cowgirls, and music by DJ O.G.ONE.
McClellan created the Eight Seconds project in 2015 to showcase his photos and stories of Black rodeo athletes and culture across the U.S. The project, characterized by iconic photography portraying the American West, quickly gained recognition. Media outlets like ESPN, Elle Magazine, The Washington Post, I-D Magazine, Black Enterprise, Modern Huntsman, and others covered McClellan’s work, which was also featured in brand campaigns for Tecovas, Wrangler, Stetson, and others. Eight Seconds became a vehicle for promoting and elevating Black cowboys and rodeo athletes.
“This rodeo is the next natural step of a subject that found and captivated me,” said McClellan. “I was always attracted to cowboy culture as a kid, and was blown away when I was introduced to Black rodeos as an adult. After going to dozens of rodeos, I decided that I have to bring this experience to my hometown and share it with my friends, neighbors, and my city–especially young people who can't imagine it or fully experience it from pictures.”
Taking place on Saturday, June 17 from 3:00 - 10:00 p.m., the invitational rodeo will gather some of the top competitors with an emphasis on supporting Black western athletes and educating people on the cultural heritage of Black cowboys and cowgirls. The Eight Seconds rodeo will be an inclusive educational and entertaining event that uses lighting, music, and top western athletes to create a fresh rodeo platform.
Competitive events will include bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, steer undecorating, bareback riding, and mutton busting. Top western influencers will attend the event as well. The rodeo will have vendors, soul food, giveaways, social media activations, and a VIP experience.
In March, Tecovas, an American retailer of authentic western goods—from cowboy boots to Western-style apparel—hailing from Austin, Texas, joined the rodeo as a major sponsor.
“Tecovas has been a fan of McClellan for years, and we have been proud to feature his talented work in the Western space,” said Gillian Kennedy, chief marketing officer, Tecovas. “We jumped at the opportunity to be a sponsor of the Eight Seconds Juneteenth Rodeo because we believe it will expose a new audience to rodeo culture, celebrate some incredible rodeo athletes, and welcome so many people to join in an American tradition. We’re looking forward to telling stories and being on the ground at this inaugural event.”
Travel Portland will also support the rodeo this summer, and the team has received contributions from Wrangler and other individual supporters. The Eight Seconds Juneteenth Rodeo is talking to a number of potential sponsors, and those interested can learn more and reach out through 8secondsrodeo.com.
McClellan’s Eight Seconds photography went viral in 2020, amidst civil rights activism in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Having been around for five years, McClellan’s project quickly accumulated nearly 18,000 followers on Instagram, and even more admirers on his website. His work has been shown or purchased by the Portland Art Museum, Wieden + Kennedy, lumber room, Harwood Museum, Tucson Museum of Art, the Russo Lee Gallery, and others.
The Eight Seconds Scholarship
The Eight Seconds philosophy is that anyone can become a cowboy or cowgirl with horseback riding lessons and the right attitude. That’s why five kids who attend the rodeo will receive scholarships for a year of horseback riding lessons. The application process will involve an essay about what it means to be a cowboy or cowgirl in today’s world.
Tecovas is an Austin, Texas-based retail brand focused on designing the world's best western footwear, apparel, and accessories and selling them directly to customers for a fair price. Founded in 2015, the brand has grown rapidly over the last few years in its mission to build the most beloved heritage western brand in the world. Visit tecovas.com or any one of Tecovas' 20 U.S. retail stores to see more.
About Eight Seconds:
Originally from Kansas City, Ivan McClellan is a photojournalist and designer based in Portland, Oregon. Eight Seconds is the eight-year passion project that has taken McClellan across the country to photograph ranches and rodeos and shed light on Black cowboy culture, elevating their stories in popular media. Learn more at eightsecs.com.
About the Eight Seconds Juneteenth Rodeo:
The Eight Seconds Juneteenth Rodeo will celebrate its inaugural event on June 17, 2023 from 3:00 - 10:00 p.m. at the Expo Center in Portland, Ore. The monumental full day event will unite our community, immersing the audience in the western lifestyle. From activities on the grounds and brand activations, to barrels, bulls, and music inside the arena, there will be abundant opportunities to captivate and engage with more than 2,500 passionate attendees.