St. Paul Rodeo trail riders head down the road during the 2016 Trail Ride. Dave Smith (third from the left) has been ridden in it nearly every year since he was a kid. This year’s trail ride is June 4. Photo courtesy Greg Meagher
Annual Trail Ride signals the beginning of St. Paul Rodeo festivities
St. Paul, Ore. (May 25, 2017) – On June 4, several hundred St. Paulians and area residents will saddle up for some fun. They’ll make a seven mile ride to kick off the season for the St. Paul Rodeo.
Before they do the trail ride, they’ll fuel up with a hearty breakfast: pancakes, locally smoked sausage, and Oregon-grown berries.
The annual trail ride is June 4, and for nearly all of his five-plus decades, Dave Smith has been part of it.
Smith, who grew up and lives in St. Paul, was on horseback when he was a kid, riding his blue roan horse named Blue. And when it was trail ride time, he and his buddies joined in on the jaunt.
When he got into his early twenties, the rodeo committee put him to work, helping prepare the trail for the riders. He took over official Trail Ride duties about twenty-five years ago, making sure any downed trees are out of the way, mowing, and making the decision if the trail should be shortened. If the Willamette River is higher than normal, the trail goes from its usual ten mile length to seven miles. Most horses don’t have a problem crossing the river, Smith said, but if one balks, it backs up traffic. “It’s a narrow road, with timber on both sides, so if one won’t go over the river, it stops the ride.”
The breakfast runs from 7-10 am on June 4, and not all breakfast-eaters take part in the trail ride. The trail ride starts at 10 am and a free lunch is served to the participants after it. Smith, who loves riding, says his favorite part of the day is breakfast and lunch.
But the camaraderie among riders is also special, which Smith likes. “You see the same people year after year. It’s a good time.”
The trail ride got its start when the horses and cattle were brought from a local farmer, Willy Smith, and driven to town by horseback. Willy was Dave Smith’s great-uncle.
A youth rodeo is held on June 3-4 from 10 am to 1 pm. The trail ride is free; breakfast is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and under. For more information, visit the rodeo’s website at www.StPaulRodeo.com or call the office at 800.237.5920.
The St. Paul Rodeo runs June 30-July 4, with performances nightly at 7:30 pm and a 1:30 pm matinee on July 4. Tickets are on sale for the rodeo through the website.
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