The ladies have lunched, the children have cheered, cattle have been roped and buckles awarded. The sun has once again set on the Oakdale Rodeo. A tradition steeped so deep in this town, one can hear grandparents tell stories of how it was when their adult children were young.
Whether you take part in “Rodeo Weekend” or “Rodeo Week” if you’ve done it right, by Sunday evening your feet are up and your smile is big as you replay the memories. For some a few memories might be a bit blurry, most would say, that too is keeping with the tradition.
Granted not all choose to stay, some prefer to drive away from the center or east end of town come Saturday. However, for those with appreciation for not just the tradition but the true sense of community, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.
Sunday night, as we replayed the three days which had passed, my boyfriend spoke of his appreciation for the Oakdale Saddle Club, Mike Bacigalupi and team, the organizers of the luncheon events and so many more. His thought … we should run an ad to thank all these people and groups.
“I forgot how much I love rodeo weekend,” he said.
I myself had reminded him of his rodeo love earlier in the week, as the grind of our jobs had us bogged down and weekend plans – well they felt feeble.
His point simple, it takes a lot of work from a lot of people to continue this tradition, which means so much to so many. As he continued to brainstorm about this “ad” I shared a letter to the editor could be an option, but then again – I had already been thinking about penning this piece myself. Perhaps I’ll cover ground for us both, I said.
It became funny to me, how two people with different backgrounds and interests strongly felt the same thing at the festivities’ end. He a local boy, with plenty of memories to recall and myself a transplant who was drawn here by the quaintness of a town which still hosted such things.
In my 19 years of living here, I think I’ve missed a total of three parades and more times than not we were in them versus watching them.
This year we were also treated to a local connection by having Oakdale’s own Katie Serpa throw her hat into the ring for Oakdale Rodeo Queen. Katie’s mom Karen, was our Realtor many moons ago. She’s also the person who took me to my first Cowgirl Luncheon back in the day when it was hosted outside adjacent to the Cowboy statue. My son was 10 months old at the time and with a dad who grew up on a cattle ranch you better believe that lil’ cowboy was dressed for the event – hat, jeans and all.
Now seeing her daughter take to the big stage and pursue something so many young girls sit in awe of was special. Katie’s speech for queen was inspiring and I’m sure helped earn her the title as Rodeo Princess.
The stories of the week as well as the weekend go on. There is so much involved in the stretch of days known as Rodeo Week. A special buzz seems to come over town. To see kids proudly put on hats, boots and the rest for Western Heritage Day each year on Friday is something special. Our kids are lucky to grow up in a town which embraces a way of life which has become so obscure to many.
For some, it’s a chance to dust off our boots and have a little fun. While for many others it’s a time to feel both proud and celebrated.
Community volunteer, business owner and western heritage enthusiast Lana Casey said it well last week, “When it’s rodeo time, people come out of the woodwork, because that is still the tradition of Oakdale.”
“Everybody is a cowboy at heart,” she said, and I’d have to agree.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch a community come together in celebration of our western heritage. Oh sure, some are in it for the party, some in it for the parade and others for the entire experience. Yet the beauty, well the beauty lies in whichever category one might fall under we each know, next year we will do it again. And that is all thanks to the efforts that goes into it by those mentioned at the top of this piece and many more.
So, thank you to each of you unsung heroes. We see your name in the program, we hear the announcer give a few a nods come Saturday and Sunday, but your efforts are more than simply appreciated; they are cherished. You are the team responsible for the memories we all hold dear and continue to talk about and for that … Thank you.
Until next year … “May your belly never grumble, May your heart never ache. May your horse never stumble, May your cinch never break.” – Cowboy Prayer. Thank you.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.