ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- There is no better time to be in this small Central Washington city.

There’s a party on every block. Everyone is dressed to the nines in their country finery. And hootin’ and hollerin’ are not only tolerated but encouraged.

I worked at the Daily Record in Ellensburg before I started at the Yakima Herald-Republic, and I always looked forward to Labor Day because it meant it was time for the Ellensburg Rodeo and the Kittitas County Fair. I don’t really care that much about rodeo (though if you’ve never been, you should check it out) but I love the whole festive atmosphere.

It all kicked off Thursday with the third annual Hoedown in the Downtown, a free concert and dance featuring Seattle favorites The Dusty 45s and local band Better Day. I headed over there to see some friends and catch the show. And while I was there I grabbed Dusty 45s frontman Billy Joe Huels and asked him to explain his affinity for Ellensburg and for the rodeo. (He’s pretty much considered an adopted local there.)

It’ll be a while before The Dusty 45s are back on our side of the state, but they’ve got a few more Western Washington shows before they head southeast later this month for a few dates in Tennessee and West Virginia.