Two words possibly said more over the course of seven days than any other in the 95361, “Rodeo Week.” It’s here, it’s now and it’s happening.
Rain or shine what we all know to be true is there is only one week like rodeo week. As a city slicker who has come to love the country, I can honestly say Rodeo Week is special.
Oh yes, I can hear a few of you laughing as you read the word “special” and it may conjure up some unique memories from years past. Now in my 18th year as a community member, with my 14th Cowgirl luncheon ahead of me I thought I’d take a quick trip down “Rodeo Week” memory lane.
First it’s fair to say that the Oakdale Rodeo was in fact part of the draw which brought us to Oakdale. While I myself am a city girl, my children’s father is a true cowboy. Raised on a cattle ranch, past member of his high school rodeo team, bare back riggin’ and all. He grew up in awe of the Camarillo brothers and their roping skills. Coming to Oakdale was a happy medium for us as a young couple looking to start a family and embrace a simpler way of life. Oakdale fit the bill and then some.
I still recall learning of the Rodeo Parade. The highway being closed and the town showing up to line the streets in anticipation of the parade. Yes, I thought we’d stumbled into Mayberry and 18 years later, there are still days I feel that with a great sense of gratitude.
Before becoming a mom, I was an Aunt. My second year with the paper I took on the challenge of covering a bit of the rodeo. There was just one slight hiccup; I agreed to do it the same day I had agreed to spend some quality time with my niece and nephew. With my nephew on my hip and my niece at my side we headed to the arena. Not an unfamiliar scene at the grounds, I quickly learned. Maneuvering the camera, lens and taking photos between my nephew on my left side, that’s a different story. But we managed to get some good shots, enjoy some bad (for us) food and create some memories. The face of the parking attendant when I shared I was there from the paper, still makes me smile. At the time I thought he was a bit uptight. Looking back I’m sure he thought I was nuts as he peered into my car and spied two full car seats behind my driver’s seat.
In 2005, I attended my first Cowgirl luncheon at the invitation of our Realtor. It was a small outdoor event back then. Tables situated between the museum and Bachi’s. Cowboys pouring out of the restaurant door bringing beverages and food. My son was just 10 months old at the time, complete in his boots and cowboy hat which seemed bigger than him. All the cowboys doting over the “cute l’il cowboy.” I still remember sitting across the table from then then-Mayor Pat Kuhn and wondering if this was real. My past life, had never seen this scene in my future, but it was a special one all the same.
The Rodeo Parade has become a staple for our family. Since becoming a mother I can recall only one year that we have sat curbside as spectators. As active community members, there’s always seemed to be someone who has had an entry and asked the kids to join. One year we were even invited to ride the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, a special treat my kids still talk about. As the mom, I always seem to be the heeler, coming up the rear to make sure the kids stay forward focused. It’s always fun to see the faces of the wee ones as their eyes go big and excitement overtakes them.
Then there’s the professional side. The fun (and responsibility) Rodeo Week brings to our office as the local community paper. We often grimace a bit, as we look to the event calendar and anticipate what the week will hold. Who will make it to what and what might we miss. It’s a juggle and a dance, but it’s uniquely a historical part of what makes this town so special.
So the headline above just seems fitting. As a “city” girl, I recognize Rodeo Week is also a time when many choose to get out of town. I’ve done that too. The horse trailers, traffic and crowds can get to be a bit much if not in the spirit.
If, however, you choose to embrace this event, live in the wonderment of “Rodeo Week,” and make those memories this is my wish for you. Be safe, be smart and take the back roads everywhere you go. Now saddle up!
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.