Although not technically a new member — he joined the Oakdale Saddle Club in 2007 — Kevin Fox is bringing fresh, new ideas to an organization that has prided itself on tradition and keeping things within the status quo for more than 60 years.
From updating the website to introducing the club to the wonders and advantages of social media to help promote events and membership, Fox is just one example of how the Oakdale Saddle Club is slowly catching up to the technological age, without losing its signature style.
Fox moved to Oakdale in 2005 from Tracy when he realized Tracy had lost its home-town flavor.
“I grew up in Tracy then moved away and when I came back, it just wasn’t home anymore,” he said. “It had exploded to the point of imploding. When I saw Oakdale, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to live here? Oakdale was like an exclusive, tight-knit community with a lot of involvement; other places just weren’t like that.”
The decision to move to Oakdale came about at the right time for the Fox family. At the time, Fox was doing construction and framing but an accident involving a friend woke him up to the dangers of his profession.
“I was essentially an artist but I didn’t want to be a starving artist so I got into construction and inspecting. But I got out before the bottom of the market fell. Then I started doing framing. But I got a reality check when a friend fell 18 feet and broke his neck. I knew I had to get out of the framing business,” he said.
When the Fox family moved to Oakdale, they were ready for a fresh start in a new community.
Fox discovered the Oakdale Cowboy Museum and friendships were forged.
“My first contact to the Saddle Club was through the Cowboy Museum. I knew some of the history but getting personally introduced to members of the Saddle Club was something else. I knew almost instantly I wanted to become a member,” Fox said. “Almost anywhere you go, people know about the Oakdale Rodeo. It’s definitely a sense of pride being a part of this organization.”
Growing up in Tracy, Fox was no stranger to horses and hard work but at heart he was an artist. As an avid photographer who’s worked fashion shows, commercial shoots, and concerts, Fox has seen and done it all. He’s worked as a concert promoter in Humboldt where he met some great musical legends and he’s got some amazing pictures tucked away in his portfolio that document his early days, but some of his more recent work with the Saddle Club makes him proud.
Recently, Fox turned his considerable talents to filmmaking, producing and directing a documentary featuring local rodeo legends, the Camarillo brothers, titled, Changing The Game, which can be found at http://www.kevinfoxfilms.com
Fox is very much a proponent of utilizing all technology available without losing the integrity of the organization. It’s a balancing act, but he’s up to the challenge.
“The legacy of the organization is continuing in all aspects. I have a lot of pride being a member of this club,” he said.
When he was asked to be a director, Fox remembers the moment fondly, saying, “It’s pretty cool that others think you have what it takes to be a leader. I was honored to wear the jacket.”
Contrary to popular belief that the Saddle Club is comprised of a core membership that simply passes from one generation to another, immediately following the rodeo, there’s usually a flurry of membership applications.
“The rodeo is definitely the inspiration. We get a great deal of members we don’t see until the rodeo and then it’s like a family reunion. There’s a huge influx before and after the rodeo of people who want to join. There’s always a lot of fresh blood every year,” Fox said. “After becoming involved I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of this organization so my kids could be a part of the legacy, too. It’s very cool to see the kids win buckles and trophies.”
Taking their cue from the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), The Oakdale Saddle Club is looking for ways to modernize their operation, such as integrating the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and perhaps a live streaming feed at the rodeo for up-to-date coverage broadcast around the web of the rodeo.
“I’d really like to see the organization remain one of the cornerstones of this community,” Fox said. “I’m looking forward to many more years to come...60 more years at least.”
This is the second in a three-part series focusing on the history and future of The Oakdale Saddle Club. Look for the final installment in the Feb. 15 issue of The Leader.