Ellensburg is a city in, and the county seat of, Kittitas County, Washington, United States. The population was 15,414 at the 2000 census. This number includes the college student population, which accounts for roughly 9,000. Ellensburg is located just east of the Cascade Range on I-90. Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University (CWU). The surrounding Kittitas Valley is internationally known for the timothy-hay that it produces. There are several local hay brokering and processing operations that ship to Pacific Rim countries. The old part of the town is fairly historic, with old brick buildings from the late 19th century. This is a legacy of its bid to be the state capital, which it lost to Olympia. CWU being placed there is another product of that legacy; the state legislature selected Ellensburg as the location for the then Normal School as a consolation prize. Eastern Washington has a much drier climate than Western Washington, and some Seattle-area residents have moved to the city and commute over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 to jobs located in the Puget Sound region. Ellensburg is a stop on the PRCA professional rodeo circuit, occurring each year on Labor Day weekend. The Ellensburg Rodeo has been a town tradition since 1923, and is the largest rodeo in Washington state.