As the popular meme states, “You know it’s rodeo week when Bachi puts up the panels.”
While the “A” month may be different in years past, be it April or August, Oakdale Rodeo is back and we could not be more thrilled.
The usage of the word “we” in this case represents many. As the small town paper, it’s exciting to have events to cover again. As a family, we’re thrilled to have a jam packed weekend ahead of us (regardless of heat index) and as a community, well it’s our ceremonial time to roll out the proverbial red carpet and show visitors what we’re all about.
Now granted, some may take that to a much bigger level than others (hello, Cowgirl Luncheon ladies), but one thing is for sure: when people leave this town the impression is left. Oakdale knows how to have a good time.
For those unfamiliar with the meme I speak of and exactly what it means, it’s a simple yet ceremonial thing which reminds us all that the games are about to begin.
Every year, for as long as I can remember Mike Bacigalupi (aka Bachi) owner of the famous H-B Saloon, located on East F Street, places the panels outside the bar entrance to help corral overflow. As is tradition, a nice banner is placed on its exterior welcoming rodeo fans, as well as creating a sort of pony wall between the general public and attendees.
Once inside, the only thing I’m willing to print about “H Bar” as so many call it, is simple, if you know you know.
It’s always a good time and the H-B (said H bar B for those unfamiliar). During the past year we’ve spent quite a bit of time down there taking in a Friday lunch or even a family dinner. There are many things I love about H Bar, when not rodeo week. The number one thing would be its family setting. It really is a family bar, which reminds me much of a place my uncle would take me when I was little.
Spending my early years in San Francisco, my mom often tells the story of my uncle coming home from work and taking me with him down to the neighborhood bar. Snuggled in my carrier, he’d place me on the bar and all the regulars would talk both around me and to me. Eventually this earned me the nickname of “Jaws” as my cheeks were a bit chubby and I often spent lots of time talking back to the bar crowd. That’s what H Bar reminds me of. A place where we can go and be surrounded by genuine people. Often times it’s not about the cocktails (which are good), it’s more about the people, more specifically the generations and the history.
I still remember the first time my son, now 17, had his first visit to H-B. He was two-and-a-half at the time and mom was super involved with the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. As a team fundraiser was being hosted there, I was contacted by the team captain and asked to come speak to the crowd on the ACS mission. This being very last minute, I had no child care options and was encouraged to bring him in tow. Ever the country kid, clad in camo pants and his favorite rain boots in spring, off we went. As I stood on a table, giving my spiel, my trusty sidekick sat on the bench beside me taking it all in.
Fast forward to a handful of years later and my daughter being tickled at the sight of seeing a brand on the bar which was the same as her initials.
In short, I love the Bacigalupi family and feel grateful to know them. The service, as well as history they maintain for this community is hard to come by in a day and age such as this, yet still they stand. Whether it be a “cold one” as the saying goes, a cocktail, a basket of fried food or a T-bone steak; the warmth, the smiles and the genuine sense of family is always more than present.
So now, as the locals become surrounded by the “fans,” I offer this, remember once the dust settles, the panels put away and the glassware is returned, Bachi and crew will still be serving up a soda for the kids and something special for the grown-ups all from the back drop of a local saloon … good stuff.
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 209-847-3021.