Philomath Frolic & Rodeo 2018

Kirk St. Clair, of Blodgett, competes in last year's bareback riding at the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo.

The 37th annual Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s three nights of action in the local arena will feature familiar voices and faces along with a few new twists worked in.

Each rodeo performance on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will begin at 7 p.m.

A longstanding tradition at the rodeo has been donkey races staged during one of the intermissions. But the donkeys are out this year to be replaced by steers.

“Our contractor that used to bring the donkeys every year for the donkey race sold all of his donkeys, got out of the business,” said the Frolic’s Chris Workman. “So we have a local sponsor that agreed to race some steers.”

Wild steers anyone? The number of those expressing an interest in competing have been high.

“It’s been pretty good — we’ve always had some sponsors that wanted to have teams enter and that was the whole point of having the businessman’s race, just so you could have different businesses competing against each other,” he said. “But we have a lot of people sign up that just want to do it. It’s a lot of fun and you get to be in the arena in front of your friends and family.”

Winners will be determined each night with no championship round like had been seen with the donkey races.

“Obviously, if we could get the donkeys still, I think that would’ve been our preference but I think the steer racing will be a hit,” Workman said. “It’ll be a little bit different; it’ll add some variety to it.”

Scott Allen returns as the rodeo announcer and Jason Buchanan brings back his sound tech talents. Longtime Philomath rodeo participant Jason McCall, who hails from the Molalla vicinity, will again lead the bull-fighting crew down in the arena.

B-Bar-D and the local rodeo continue their relationship for stock contracting.

“We’re fortunate to have them,” Workman said of B-Bar-D, an organization that routinely earns recognition for their quality. “They bring good stock, they know what they’re doing back there and they make things run without us really having any oversight.

“It’s one of the things that you don’t really see until something doesn’t work,” he added. “When you don’t have a good stock contractor or have good volunteers or crew working for you, that’s when you have those gaps in between events.”

Joey “Hashbrown” Hackett will entertain and help distract bulls from competitors for a third straight year as the rodeo clown.

“He’s bringing a new show this year for intermission,” Workman said. “I won’t spill the beans, but he’s bringing some new props and stuff. We like that he’s family friendly and we like that he can appreciate the Philomath crowd. He interacts well with the crowd.”

Added to the intermission lineup this year will be an event for the kids.

“We’re going to do a kids’ barrel race,” Workman said. “We’re going to let the kids come down out of the stands and we’ll run them around the barrels.”

After a two-year run, the bullfighting competition has been removed from rodeo night. Workman said he believes the number of bull-rider entries have been on an upward trend to provide that final rush of excitement as part of the rodeo night experience.

In addition, Workman said the bullfighting experiment proved to be too costly.

“It really came down to a financial decision,” he said. “It was pretty expensive to put that on and we had a little bit of a hard time generating new, big sponsors to sponsor just that event because our community likes to support the rodeo as a whole as opposed to just a single event. So, it was kinda difficult for us.”

To purchase rodeo tickets in advance, go online to PhilomathFrolic.org. Tickets for reserved seating and general admission can both be purchased. Tickets are also available at the gate but organizers encourage people to buy ahead of time to make sure they get a seat.

The rodeo transitioned to online ticket sales last year and Workman said he's heard a lot of positive feedback but also some complaints, including those who meet up with friends at the rodeo but then have a hard time sitting together because of the reservation system.

The Frolic board hopes they came up with a solution.

“In response to the feedback we got last year, we did keep two sections for reserved seating but we opened up the furthest north section of the grandstand (sections A and B) and then the extra bleachers (on the south side) will be general admission.”

Reserved seating will be in the center sections — C and D.

“We’re trying to accommodate what the fans want,” Workman said. “I think if we would’ve gotten rid of reserved seating, we would’ve heard complaints because a lot of people really liked that, so we kept some but we did open up a little bit more of an area for people to be able to meet up on the day of the rodeo and be able to find seats next to friends and family.”

Rodeo events include bareback riding, barrel racing, breakaway roping, bull riding, calf roping, novice bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling and team roping.

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