Lance Harvey’s family tree is made of lassos.
The 35 year-old veteran of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is one of nine Oakdale residents ready to tackle this weekend’s Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo and one of 341 scheduled participants in one of the state’s premier rodeos, this year marking the 60th annual event.
Harvey, raised in a family deeply entrenched in the California rodeo system, plans to stand out among the contestants in the team roping division.
“This is a prestigious rodeo that just so happens to be my hometown rodeo, and a guy always wants to win his hometown rodeo,” Harvey said. “We have been practicing at a competitive level, and obviously we are there to win.”
He will have plenty of competition in the highest populated event at the Saddle Club Rodeo, but has some PRCA experience with his brother-in-law and teammate Bert McGill (of Sanger) and the Harvey pedigree that has weaned rodeo talent decade after decade in the central valley.
His father and his uncle (currently runs 300 head of cattle) were both PRCA cowboys. Harvey’s cousins either produce rodeo events or they compete themselves, and the next generations of Harvey’s have already jumped into the saddle.
Lance’s stepson, Jake Harvey, is a 20-year-old member of the Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo rodeo team. Lance’s stepdaughter, Randi Harvey, ropes and rides rodeo for Oakdale High and District 5.
It’s the same program Lance competed for when he was an Oakdale High student, and the same program likely to see Lance’s (Maci Harvey, 7) and (Sid Harvey, 5) young rodeo stars.
“My family has all grown up around rodeo,” Harvey said. “Heck, it’s been my life.
“I come from a ranching family.”
Harvey said performing well at the Oakdale Rodeo is especially important, considering it sets the tone for the year’s rodeo events. He then travels to Red Bluff, Clovis, Springville, Auburn, Sonora and Woodlake to tackle team-roping purses across the state.
And this is the only purse you will see a cowboy pursuing.
Last year’s Oakdale rodeo netted an impressive total purse of $102,992 for winners across the six PRCA events. Oakdale Saddle Club director Gerry Beckerdite said this year’s purse should see around the same total.
And Oakdale has plenty of local cowboys looking to don that shiny new purse. Oakdale High graduate and former prep pole vaulter, Bo Bacigalupi is one of them, and is favored to do well after a championship effort in the bull riding division at the La Grange Rodeo last weekend. Bacigalupi’s efforts topped over 20 entries and earned him over $2,000 in purse money from the event.
Daniel Green (team roping), Dani Leslie (steer wrestling, team roping), Lane Murray (team roping), Troy Murray (calf-tying, team roping), Tyler Quiring (team roping), Joseph Shawnego (team roping) and Ryle Smith (calf-tying, steer wrestling) will also represent Oakdale at their hometown rodeo.
Shawnego may be unable to compete after he nearly lost his thumb in a rodeo accident in recent weeks. Bacigalupi, Shawnego, Lane Murray and Troy Murray are all District 5 high school rodeo products.
“These cowboys love the rodeo,” Rodeo Arena Director Norm Mendenhall said. “A lot of them grew up in a family that did rodeo and they followed in someone’s footsteps and kept going with it.”
Rodeo action kicks off on Thursday with barrel racing slack at 4 p.m.
Slack for all time events begins at 7 a.m. on Friday, before a 1:30 p.m. Grand Entry and start to Saturday’s rodeo the following day. Sunday’s rodeo competition starts the same way, with the Grand Entry at 1:30 p.m.