Kitsap Stampede rodeo includes salute to military Aug. 21, donation to Fisher House

By Melanie Casey on August 20, 2014

Get ready to hold on to your (cowboy) hats. The annual Kitsap County Fair and Stampede kicks off today with five days of carnival rides, critters, deep-fried dough concoctions, a wide array of sure-to-please entertainment and much more.

The "stampede" part of this extravaganza is a series of rodeo events including an Extreme Bull Competition today followed by a concert performance by country singer John Michael Montgomery.

Three days of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) pro rodeo action kicks off with a special salute to the military at 7 p.m., Aug. 21.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fisher House Manager Jodi Land will be on hand to accept a donation of $5,000 courtesy of the Kitsap rodeo committee, which will also honor other local service members prior to the start of the action.

"We are so grateful for the generous support that will be used to provide a 'home away from home' for our military service men and women and their loved ones receiving care at Madigan Army Medical Center," Land said.

The JBLM Fisher House is one of 63 similar houses around the world. It provides a comfortable, safe place for ill and injured service members and their families to stay for up to six months at no charge. 

The Fisher House donation comes as part of National Wrangler Patriot Night, a year-round program that raises funds to support U.S. military veterans and their families.

"We have a high level of pride and respect for individuals serving in the U.S. military who show heroism every day in an effort to protect our country," said Phil McAdams, president of Wrangler Specialty Apparel, on the program's website. "This is our chance to give back to those veterans who have suffered injuries fighting for our country's safety and freedom, and to their families who have lost a loved one while on duty." Since it began in 2009, the Wrangler National Patriot program has donated more than $750,000.

"A local committee will raise money for a local veteran's charity, and they will match it up to $2,500," explained Dennis Wood, a volunteer on the Kitsap Stampede rodeo committee. "We get to pick the charity, and it stays in our area. Then we go out and raise money - at least $2,500 - so they will match it."

During the past six months or so, the Kitsap Stampede rodeo committee has been raising funds for the JBLM Fisher House. Three silent auctions, a comedy night at a local tavern and a barrel race all brought in more than the required $2,500, Wood said.

The all-volunteer committee is made up of many veterans or those affiliated with the military, said Wood, a retired Navy master chief who has been in the area since 1985. "So there are a lot of people really attached to it."

In addition to the check presentation and service member recognition, Wrangler is providing hats to the first 500 veterans at Thursday's rodeo kick-off event along with National Patriot program bandanas. Active duty and retired service members and their dependents with valid military ID, along with first responders, get in to the fair and rodeo that day for just two bucks.

So dust off those cowboy boots, dig out your best cowboy hat and head up to Kitsap this week for some world-class rodeo action.

KITSAP COUNTY FAIR AND STAMPEDE, Aug. 20-24, 1200 NW Fairgrounds Road, Bremerton, tickets start at $11, children 5 and younger free,