And so it goes … another Rodeo Week has been put to rest in the Chapter Book which encompasses my Oakdale life.
This year marked my 12th year as an Oakdalean weaving through the traffic of multiple horse trailers and counting the number of skirts and boot clad ladies I spotted meandering down F Street. It is indeed a time when our town comes to life in a way which would rival many Beverly Hills type reality shows. To say our streets come alive for Rodeo Week is a gross understatement - at best.
Understandably Rodeo Week is not a favorite of all Oakdale residents. Many I know seize this as an opportunity to head out of town. There’s no harm in that either as the streets become so full, few are missed.
Yes, this city girl transplant has sat her fair share of times in the bleachers taking in the rodeo sights. I even covered it one rainy year, with my nephew hiked on my hip and my niece within arm’s reach … we did our best to grab a few shots for the paper.
As the years have passed though, I, like most (who actually enjoy the nostalgia of the week) have come upon my own favorite pieces, which make this week uniquely ours.
Who doesn’t love a parade? Okay, well being totally honest there are years I find it to be a bit long … but aren’t all parades long? As a somewhat active family in this wonderful community, we have found ourselves in the parade more than on the curb spectating. This year my son opted for the curb with friends, as his sister fancied sitting on hay bales and waving her way down F street with fellow dancers of Pointe of Dance.
Truthfully, the idea of living in a town where streets were still closed to host a parade was part of the appeal of Oakdale for their father and I. It is a fun and memorable tradition. We always enjoy the dancing horses, the Shriner clowns and of course ... spotting and waving to all the people we know.
In 2005, however, I was invited to this funny sounding thing called the “Cowgirl Luncheon.” Admittedly I felt a bit self-conscious as I did not own a piece of turquoise jewelry let alone boots or a hat. Realtor Karen Serpa had a table and asked if my son (then 10 months old) and I would care to join her and a few friends.
In the early days of the luncheon it was hosted in the courtyard area between the Cowboy Museum and Bachi’s. Like any good mom, my son was dressed the part. His grandparents reside in Wyoming where they were once cattle ranchers and his father was once a bareback rider, so western wear was already a part of his little wardrobe.
I still remember, as if yesterday, taking a seat in that courtyard with my son complete with his Justin Cowboy hat and baby Justin boots. As the cowboys made their way out from the Bachi kitchen to serve the 150 ladies in attendance, we were greeted by Ace Berry. In the kindest of a voice and the sweetest of smiles he looked to my son and stated, “Well, look here ... it’s our youngest cowboy. He’s a cute one.” My son grinned and I thanked him and then … we ate.
There was hootin’ and hollerin’ then just as now, but the crowd was a bit more tame? Well, in all honesty there were fewer than the 450-plus which now pack the Gene Bianchi Community Center so that could be a large part of the difference, I’m sure.
This year I was once again a fortunate ticket holder at the 12th Annual Cowgirl Luncheon. Never one to disappoint … Cowboy Museum Director Christie Camarillo was again the hostess with the mostest, as the ‘cowgirls’ clambered to their seats and the cowboys were each introduced before serving the ‘ladies.’
As the afternoon unfolded, it struck me on how the event had grown. As I watched one mommy clutch her infant boy and head for silence, I recalled that lunch in 2005. Sharing the story with my girlfriends I came to realize how fortunate I was. A transplant who has been able to witness something grow to something so epic, fun and cause-worthy all at once.
Sadly, long time Oakdale resident Ace Berry was not present to serve this year. He and wife Renee are set to leave the 95361 and relocate to Oklahoma this week. They have been active members and fixtures in this town for 61 years. But as the years pass and my children become more aware of Rodeo Week and all its festivities my son will know we were once served by Rodeo Hall of Famer Ace Berry.
Thank you Oakdale Saddle Club and Oakdale Cowboy Museum, as well as cowboys from near and far who take this week and make it a time where our little town becomes a recognizable (yet somewhat crazy) place on the map. Much obliged.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager 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.