By Phil Wright
PENDLETON — The closure of Interstate 84’s eastbound lanes in the Columbia River Gorge due to wildfire seems to be having little effect on the Pendleton Round-Up.
Horse trailers and recreational vehicles are filling camping areas, and street parking Monday afternoon near the Round-Up Grounds was scarce. But vendor Alvin Johnson said the crowds Saturday were smaller than in previous years, and he had no doubt air quality was to blame.
“We book these spots a year in advance, so we kind of have to be here to sell our stuff,” Johnson said. “We’re really dependent on customers getting here from the bigger areas.”
Johnson sells American Indian jewelry and pottery at the corner of Southwest Court Avenue and 10th Street. He said he traveled from Ashland through Bend and came into town Friday, and the wildfire smoke filled the air the whole way. The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Tripcheck website shows 45 miles of I-84 remain closed from Troutdale to Hood River.
Johnson said he was worried the shutdown would deter people from coming this week to Pendleton.