The 88-year-old St. Paul Rodeo will be put into the ProRodeo Cowboys Association Hall of Fame this summer. Since 1935, tens of thousands of rodeo fans have come to the small town in Oregon’s Marion County on the Fourth of July to watch rodeos.
The first rodeo was held on the city’s baseball field, now a 10,000-seat arena for rodeos.
Kevin Smith, vice-president and historian of the St. Paul Rodeo Association, says that the success and longevity of the rodeo are due to the community of volunteers who put it on.
“The rodeo began in 1935 with eight founding directors,” Smith said. “More than half of them were from local families right here. Still, today, half of our board of directors, up to 11 members now, are grandsons and great-grandsons of those founders.”
Smith is a real St. Paul Rodeo kid. He likes to say that he and his mother have only missed one: they were in the Woodburn Hospital when he was born in 1953.
Carl Smith, his grandfather, was on the board of directors. Gene Smith, his father, was on the board for 46 years. Smith has been on the board for twenty years. Some families have been involved with the rodeo association for many years are the Smith, Coleman, Manegre, and McKillip families.
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“I was answering rodeo telephone calls at my mom and dad’s house when I was probably six years old, and our phone number was 3-9-3,” Smith said. “Most of us haven’t moved more than 15, 20 miles .. and that has made the rodeo work.”
Hundreds of volunteers run the nonprofit rodeo association, and the two people paid to work there. The St. Paul Rodeo Association has 450 members, which is a lot for a town with only 425 residents. Over five days, about 75,000 people will go to St. Paul in July to see the rodeo, carnival, parade, and Fourth of July fireworks.
St. Paul is the 33rd rodeo to be inducted into the ProRodeo Cowboys Association Hall of Fame. After the Pendleton Round-up, it is the second rodeo in Oregon to be established.
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Members of the St. Paul Rodeo will go to Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 15 for the awards ceremony at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
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