Back in 1983 when the Philomath Frolic’s organizers began to run with the idea of adding a rodeo, a request went out to the Philomath Jaycees to basically provide the manpower behind the operation.
A rodeo arena went up on the Skirvin family’s property and it’s grown into an annual event that one could say serves as a centerpiece of the community’s summer activities. Traditions have been established through the years, including several who have contributed their time and energy to the celebration year after year.
Darrell Hinchberger is one of those traditions. A native Canadian with plenty of cowboy in his heart, Hinchberger was in the Jaycees back when the rodeo got its start.
“I like just the general activity of the rodeo, the community coming together for an event that everybody seems to enjoy and relax,” Hinchberger said about what he enjoys most about the annual event. “And I like the organization part of it and just enjoying the weekend.”
Hinchberger, who serves on the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s executive board as the vice president of management, said there have been changes implemented for this year’s celebration.
“We had several discussions. … Whenever we do a change, we make sure everybody’s on board with it,” Hinchberger said. “We had a lot of questions asked, but as far as the volunteers, everybody was in consensus.”
One of the biggest changes involves scrapping the Sunday afternoon matinee rodeo in favor of a full rodeo on Thursday night.
“We think it’s an upgrade from what we’ve been doing,” said Chris Workman, fourth-year Frolic & Rodeo president. “You get three full nights of full rodeo action and we’ll have the beer garden and the dance party and the live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.”
For those who also like to take in the slack event, it has moved to 11 a.m. Friday.
“We started charging a little bit for slack to try to help with the revenue side a little bit because we have expenses to have the judges and everybody there and they’ve got to spend the night,” Workman said about the slack night over the past couple of years. “Everything about Thursday night was costing us money and we were not making anything, so we started charging a little bit and attendance actually went up.”
However, the slack rodeo this year will again be free to spectators.
Organizers expect the new schedule to positively impact not only the fans and the volunteers, but others involved from the vendors to the stock contractor to the contestants and talent.
“We’re excited for the change. It’ll keep our volunteers from being worn out and having to take a week off work to recuperate,” Hinchberger said. “Sunday was a relaxing day for us to some extent, but the (attendance) numbers were down.”
One of the interesting aspects of the change will be to see how the rodeo competitors respond. Philomath isn’t the only rodeo going on this weekend with at least three others in the region.
“They’ve not had Sunday performances ever and we’ve become that de facto Sunday rodeo, which means they weren’t coming and performing for us Friday and Saturday,” Workman said about past years and the competing rodeos.
Those who did watch the Sunday rodeos may recall that most winners were decided during that final performance.
“Typically, our winners were riding on Sunday because the better competitors weren’t coming to us on Friday and Saturday nights when our big crowds were there,” Workman said. “My hope is it’ll spread it out a little bit more. Saturday night is the finale and the cowboys and cowgirls are just going to have to choose if they want to be in the Frolic on Saturday or Thursday before they hit their other rodeos. They’ll have to make a more conscious choice.”
Part of the Northwest Pro Rodeo Association tour, the competition includes all of the popular events — bareback, barrel racing, breakaway roping, bull riding, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down roping.
B Bar D Rodeo Co., based in Culver, will serve as the rodeo's stock contractor for the 10th straight year.
The rodeo will also feature extreme freestyle bullfighting for a second straight year to provide a little extra pulse-quickening action. The donkey races and mutton bustin’ events always bring smiles.
The voice of the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo, Scott Allen, returns to handle announcing duties.
“As long as he does rodeos, he’ll do the Frolic & Rodeo,” Workman said. “He loves coming here every year.”
Joey “Hashbrown” Hackett will return as the rodeo clown for a third year.
“He’s doing a great job; we don’t have any reasons to go away from him,” Workman said. “He loves coming and doing our show and yeah and we see new material and see him really growing into what he’s doing and the crowd gets into it. I think he’ll continue to be a crowd favorite.”