The 60th annual Philomath Frolic & Rodeo that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday will feature of mix of old and new.
Sure, the parade on Saturday morning will roll down Applegate as usual and the Frolic’s arena will light up three straight nights for rodeo performances. But in an approach that celebrates the festival’s roots, an effort to feature the types of activities commonly seen at small-town festivals can be found on the schedule.
For example, a commercial carnival that typically makes appearances at such events has been replaced with a home-grown lineup of activities.
“We decided to upgrade from the carnival and put on our own carnival this year,” said Chris Workman, a volunteer who serves on the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s board of directors. “We’re going with a more hometown Frolic carnival.”
In the area that had become known as Kids’ Korner in past years, several new additions will be available for families to enjoy with obstacle courses, a bounce house and dunk tank among the activities.
A main attraction each summer has always been the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Grand Parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday on a route that runs from the Philomath High School parking lot west on Applegate Street to South 11th Street. Various awards are handed out, including the judges’ Sweepstakes Award, along with the grand marshal, queen and mayor choice awards.
The Frolic & Rodeo board chose the Confederated Tribes of Siletz as the parade grand marshal. Local resident Jeff Williams will represent the tribe in the parade.
The primary attraction at the Frolic continues to be the rodeo. Workman said it is still growing and has developed a reputation as one of the top competitions in the state. At the same time, organizers want to make sure the Frolic features community events beyond the rodeo that appeal to everybody.
New events found on the Frolic’s schedule this year include a 5-kilometer family fun run, a home run derby and a cornhole tournament.
The 5K run had been an idea that Workman wanted to bring in last year but time slipped away to get it organized. Kristen Beckstead and Marty Hernandez committed to helping, Workman said, and high school student Hannah Hernandez has taken on its organization for her senior project during this inaugural year.
The run will begin at 9 a.m. Friday with its start and finish at the rodeo grounds.
“It’s all in Marys River Park, we’re not out on the street,” Workman said. “There’s a 1K as well if you want to take the younger kids on a loop and back. But for the rest of it, there are a couple of loops through Marys River Park.”
To register, go online to PhilomathFrolic.org and click on “Event Registrations” to find a link. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. behind the grandstands.
“We’ll have the finish line in the arena, so it’ll have some Frolic & Rodeo flair to it with you finishing in the arena,” Workman said. “You get to tromp that last 100 feet or so through the dirt clogs.”
Workman says that those who want to make a race of it are encouraged to do so.
“It’s the 5K Family Fun Run but bring your running shoes and be ready to run hard because we’re going to have prizes for the winners and they get bragging rights for the year,” he said.
The Frolic Home Run Derby will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Philomath High School softball field. Kristi King stepped up to organize the event.
The softball-hitting competition features separate brackets for men, women, young men and young women. There is also a youth competition for children 12 and under.
The first-ever Frolic Cornhole Tournament is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature a double-elimination format for teams of two made up of all ages and abilities. The registration is $10 per team.
The cornhole tournament will feature no divisions.
“It’s just one bracket — a free-for-all,” Workman said. “You could have two 5-year-old kids going up against two 30-year-old men — it’s however the bracket shakes out. It’s all just for fun.”
And that was important to Workman — keeping the event light while stressing fun.
“Some of the cornhole tournaments can get pretty competitive and we didn’t want to go that route with professional cornhole tossers coming in from out of the area,” Workman said. “This is for Philomath folks and the community to come and just have a good time with their kids, a good time with family and friends.”
Workman himself has been working on the construction of 20 cornhole targets so 10 matches can go on at the same time.
“With these things that are new this year … if we only get five or six people showing up, we’ll probably look twice at it before doing in next year and it ends up being a one-and-done kind of thing,” Workman said. “But my hope would be that you commit to doing it for two or three years and see if you can build a following. A lot of these things end up becoming traditions for people.”
For the second straight year, the rodeo will feature Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances. Frolic organizers promote Thursday as the “budget-friendly” night to attend with discounted tickets available. The biggest night each year always occurs on Saturday night.
“One of the things we’ve talked to the rodeo committee about is making an effort this year to bring the champions out and award them their buckles and their stuff that night in front of the crowd,” Workman said.
In previous years when the Sunday matinee was still on the schedule, winners wouldn’t receive much recognition.
“There are other rodeos happening that weekend so there’s no guarantee that the winner over three days of events is going to be there Saturday night but there’s a greater likelihood that they’ll be there,” Workman added. “The ones that are there will be recognized and for the ones that aren’t, we’ll still shout out their name and announce them as the winner and get them their stuff later.”
The annual fireworks show will follow Friday night’s rodeo and the crowning of the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo queen will be staged during Saturday night’s performance.
Following the rodeo each of the three nights will be the Frolic dance in the Yew Wood Corral with Scruggs and the Steelbenders, a band out of Alsea.
The group played the Thursday night dance at last year’s Frolic and Workman said they were so popular that the board asked them to come back for the full three-night run this year.
“Everybody loved them and wanted them back … and we got to looking at it and they’re local, they’ve got a good local following and they’ve just got a great band,” Workman said. “They just put on a really, really good show (last year) and they played really good to the crowd, people enjoyed them and they knew the music they were playing.”
The youth activities area will run from 5-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2-7 p.m. Saturday.
For all three days, Peak Elite Gymnastics Academy will be on site with a bounce house and Parkour course. The Army National Guard will bring in a climbing wall and inflatable obstacle course. And Philomath Fire & Rescue will set up a dunk tank on Saturday only.
The Mid Columbia Bus Co., which serves the Philomath School District, plans to be on site with events and cotton candy, Workman said. The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz will reportedly be on hand with a dancing exhibition.
“We’re moving all of the Kids’ Korner stuff out of the parking lot area into the rodeo grounds so they’ll be just behind the grandstands near the vendor area on the south end,” Workman said.
Old favorites return such as mutton bustin’ and the 4-H Farm Animal Meet-’n-Greet, along with arts and crafts activities.
Besides the 5K Family Fun Run, the Friday lineup also includes the Sidewalk Chalk Roundup, which runs from 10:30 a.m.-noon at Philomath Community Library.
In addition to the parade and new Home Run Derby and Cornhole Tournament activities, the Saturday schedule also features the professional lumberjack competition, which begins at 3 p.m., and the Philomath Youth Activities Club’s Fish Rodeo, which gets underway at 4 p.m.
The Frolic schedule also includes various queen pageant-related activities that culminate with Saturday night’s crowning.
Food booths and craft vendors operate from 5-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2-9 p.m. Saturday. The Lions Club’s annual rodeo breakfast goes from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday and the Marys Peak Search and Rescue BBQ Chicken Lunch will be available that same day from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
The Frolic board would like to see more folks take advantage of camping on site.
“More people choose to bring RVs and campers and we’re encouraging that again so they can stay,” Workman said.
The overnight dry camping rates are $20 per night or $50 for three nights.
“Last year, we had a group of five or six trailers and it was all local folks, but rather than go home from the rodeo, they brought their campers and formed a U and they camped and stayed around,” Workman said. “It’s another alternative that people have and we recognize that a lot of people are coming from out of town and if they’d rather not have to stay in a hotel or something and bring the trailer down, we’ve got more room now with more capacity if people want to stay over for the weekend.”