With some of the toughest rodeo animals in the West - and cowboys of the same caliber - the 61st annual Oakdale Rodeo promises competition, thrills, and a showcase for some of the top rodeo riders.
It all comes to town this week, with slack events starting Thursday and continuing Friday. Grand Entry at the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds is scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., followed by the actual rodeo competition, with well in excess of 300 signing up in hopes of taking home some prize money.
"In years past, we have had as many as 500 competitors, but we're very happy with the contestants and the number we have this year," said Oakdale Saddle Club media liaison Kevin Fox. "Considering the price of fuel and having to travel to compete, we're very pleased to have so many coming in."
Fox said much of the formula for the rodeo remains the same, with a full slate of activities during the week leading up to the actual two days of rodeo competition.
Cotton Rosser will provide the competition animals and Fox said they anticipate having some of the best bulls here for the crowd favorite bull riding event.
The exciting, fast-paced barrel racing will start with slack events on Thursday.
"We're on schedule with everything," Fox said as final preparations were being made for the rodeo week activities.
Friday will bring slack for all the timed events at the rodeo grounds on East F Street starting at 8 a.m.; and the open roping is scheduled for a midafternoon start time, about 3 p.m.
Bachi's H-B Saloon will be the scene for the Rodeo Week Velvet Rope Party on Friday night, but be prepared to stand in line because the F Street landmark is always bursting at the seams during the rodeo festivities.
Saturday morning brings the annual Rodeo Parade on F Street, forming up about 7:30 a.m. and stepping off at 9 a.m.
This year's Grand Marshal announcement was to be a surprise, said Fox, but entries for the parade were coming in at a steady clip, again promising to be a lengthy, colorful, musical attraction along the main thoroughfare through town.
Along with the Grand Entry and actual rodeo events staged at the Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds, there will also be food and drink vendors, merchandise for sale, local non-profit clubs hosting booths and special events ranging from the performances of Pro Tour FMX riders, bullfighting demonstrations, the barrel man and a Sunday morning Cowboy Church service at the grounds. The Saturday night dance will feature music by The Catfish Boys and be hosted at the rodeo grounds, though attendance is for those 21 and over only.
Fox said events throughout the week are designed to highlight Oakdale's rich tradition and prominence as the Cowboy Capital of the World. Organizers were looking hopefully to the promise of decent weather for the upcoming weekend, with forecasters predicting mostly sunny skies and highs nearing 70 degrees both Saturday and Sunday.
"We're looking for good crowds, good competition, a great year," Fox said.