I specialize in timeless, fine art photography and my passion is combining traditional and lifestyle portraiture while photographing families, seniors, maternity and branding clients in Cle Elum, Washington and surrounding areas.
In an effort to keep their business intact and feed their stock, they’ve started a GoFundMe to help see them through: https://bit.ly/TheBeardFamily
Donations can be made in person at Heritage Bank in Ellensburg (Daniel Beard Rodeo Savings account).
The Beard family’s involvement in the rodeo and stock contracting business dates back four generations since long before the interstate came into town. Today Daniel, his wife Janelle, and their two sons live on their family ranch just outside of Ellensburg where they continue the tradition of raising bucking horses and bulls for the rodeo industry.
“This year has been a year of canceled rodeos, lost income, belt-tightening, revised budgets, more belt-tightening, another round of rodeo cancellations. You kind of hunker down and wonder what else could happen? Add all the stress of EVERYTHING, fires, weather, the passing of my grandparents and mother-in-law, everything! This year has been hard. There’s hope for next year, but spring has a new set of questions.”
I know first hand that the rodeo family is exceptional. The Western values, traditions, and culture have done so much to form the identity of this region – which makes it reminiscent of a different era that is so desirable. There is still a strong aspect of neighbors looking out for neighbors and the priceless opportunity to raise our families in this environment of “what can I do for my neighbor?”
The Beards first settled in Ellensburg in the 70s when Daniel’s grandparents moved up to Ellensburg from the Sunnyside area. His grandparents bought a ranch on Naneum road and sent their two youngest kids to school in Ellensburg. Though his grandparents just recently passed away, their original ranch still belongs to the family and is owned by a cousin.
Janelle’s family (the Eatons) predates even that, having moved to the area before the interstate came through. They had moved to Idaho for a while but moved back to Ellensburg and bought “The Canyon” as they call it. Today, at 92, Jack and Benita, Janelle’s grandparents, still love ranch life and doing the ranch work.
It was through his grandparents that Daniel fell in love with the rodeo way of life. As a young boy of 12, he came up to Grandpa Frank’s house where he would spend every summer after with him doing rodeos.
“I can remember being upset if Grandpa woke up early and started doing chores without me. I was devastated on weekends when they would go away to do a rodeo and I wasn’t able to come along. If the truck was going and there were things to do, I wanted to be a part of it. To this day I don’t know why I chose rodeo life but the work is just quality. The whole process of taking care of the animals from colts to successful adult rodeo horses has an element of quality and care that I find immensely rewarding. Of course, the rodeos are fun and the quality of people you find at rodeos is awesome. It’s good people, good times and it’s easy to enjoy the work.”
There is no one particular moment that instilled his passion for rodeo life but somewhere along the way he fell in love with the culture, hard work, and joy that rodeo life embodies. In a normal year, the Beard family runs a wonderfully successful ranch with their rodeo horses and stock. The business spends the spring and summer traveling throughout the West working rodeos in states like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota. During an average season, they will work about 22 rodeos.
But this isn’t an average year for anyone. COVID has had a devastating effect on families, industries, and livelihoods across the world. Daniel’s family, ranch, and the rodeo industry were no exception. The results were catastrophic for those dependent on rodeo’s success, including the Beards. This year their ranch was able to work a nominal four rodeos, a small fraction of what is necessary to stay afloat.
For most rodeo people, it’s not an industry that makes one rich – the profit made is enough to cover the cost of animal care, hay for the year, truck costs, and hiring help. As a testament to this, both Daniel and Janelle work full-time jobs in addition to the rodeo operation. Daniel is a middle school teacher in Ellensburg (Morgan Middle School), Janelle is an Echocardiogram Technician at Kittitas Valley Hospital in Ellensburg.
But it wasn’t just COVID. 2020 has had a tremendous effect on their family in significant ways. Not only in their personal careers and rodeo life but they also dealt with significant losses in their family. Daniel’s grandma passed away in August, Janelle’s mom passed away in September, followed up by Daniel’s grandfather’s death in October. This year has been truly devastating. Despite it all, the Beards very much maintain the mentality of “what can I do for my neighbor?” Which is yet one more reason I know this community will rally around them. To donate to help the Beard Rodeo Company feed their livestock and continue their contribution to the rodeo industry, please click the GoFundMe link at the top of this blog, or stop by Heritage Bank in Ellensburg.
Mary Maletzke Photography
MARY MALETZKE PHOTOGRAPHY IS A LUXURY FAMILY & PERSONAL BRANDING PHOTOGRAPHER SERVING CLE ELUM, Ellensburg, SUNCADIA, (AND BEYOND!)
We SPECIALIZE IN AN EXCLUSIVE FULL SERVICE PHOTOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE beginning WITH SESSION PLANNING, STYLING AND LOCATIONS, AND CONCLUDES WITH THE CREATION OF HEIRLOOM QUALITY FINE ART FOR FAMILIES TO ENJOY IN THEIR HOME FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.