As long as I can remember, our local rodeos were the ultimate “get together” of community, family and people that we couldn’t stop looking forward too as children. I think it has something to do with the fact that once school was out, there wasn’t extra curricular activities that we were a part of because we were needed on the farm to drive tractor, bale hay, move irrigation, so on and so forth. The first chance that we really got to go out into civilization and see people was the Philomath Frolic and Rodeo, the second week in July!
As I get older, I realize that we weren’t really as far out in the “sticks” as I seemed to think we tragically were growing up. It’s probably as I develop more and more awareness with my friends in southeastern Oregon that I realize that they are truly “out in the middle of nowhere,” while I am quite simply a 20 minute drive from town. It didn’t change the fact that we couldn’t wait for the small neighbor town of Philomath to throw their big rodeo!
An eight-time Northwest Professional Rodeo Association Rodeo of the Year, the Philomath Frolic is exactly what you picture when you think high-quality, small town rodeo! It’s beautiful blue wooden bleachers, sprawling field of bucking horses, and red, white & blue decorations cover not only the rodeo grounds but the entire town.
This year, that all changed.
In 2017, they incorporated their first every freestyle bullfight competition. For those of you that aren’t familiar, freestyle bullfighting is where professional cowboy protectors in the bull riding, called “bullfighters,” jump in with a very angry and aggressive Mexican fighting bull and see if they can be faster, quicker and smarter. I, for one, think that this is virtually impossible. It’s a sport that’s quickly growing in popularity with the Bull Fighters Only (BFO) organization promoting high quality media content to help educate the adrenaline-junky world who may not understand rodeo just how insane these competitions are! Try and name another sport where your competitor ACTUALLY wants to kill you!
The Frolic’s non-sanctioned competition was such a fan favorite, the rodeo committee decided to change up much of the rodeo to center around the bull fights which meant a color change to turquoise. Although it was sad not to see the red, white and blue for a second week after the 4th of July, I understand that association’s have to do what they have to do in order to keep up with the times.
Sometimes these bullfights are hard for me to watch, however, because these bulls really do want to destroy you! Watch as Jackal Crenshaw gets tossed around in this freestyle – we found out later he had a broken back from a freestyle earlier in the week.
Just like with every Frolic for the past 5 years, I was behind the bucking chutes in my happy place working with the bucking stock. As most people know, I started out my “rodeo committee career” working the timed event animals but, once I was over 18, I was able to jump back behind to work stripping chutes, some flanking, and sorting of the stock. I prefer to stick to the stripping chutes however, as I don’t always know the animals and don’t want to be the one in charge of “flanking” them (tightening their flank straps) for a competition. Each animal is unique and specific and their stock contractors know how to best set them up for success.
July is for the Philomath Frolic and Rodeo, although my time in 2016 has taught me to love other 4th of July rodeos like Molalla Buckaroo or the Eugene ProRodeo over the 4th of July, or the AMAZING Chief Joseph Days Rodeo the third weekend in July. Volunteering as the secretary for the Benton County Rodeo Committee, it has been my goal that someday, just maybe, we could win the NPRA Rodeo of the Year title and although I think we are well on our way, I know we aren’t nowhere close to where we want to be!