The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo arena awaits three nights of action beginning on Thursday. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Despite a major hurdle in the form of a grandstand fire just a week and a half before the community’s biggest annual event, the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s board of directors opted to stay the course and move forward without any rodeo cancellations.

Volunteers from in and outside of the organization dropped everything to continue preparations and work through the situation caused by the June 27 fire. A demolition project got the scorched section out of the way and the board arranged to have temporary bleachers brought in to make up for some of the lost seating capacity.

The work all adds up to a full Frolic experience with activities running from Thursday through Sunday (although there will be a home run derby on Wednesday evening).

“We’ve got 12 active board members right now and with that, you spread the workload out amongst everybody and so that helps take the strain off of any small group of folks,” Frolic & Rodeo spokesperson Chris Workman said when asked about the strength of the organization’s membership. “Then we’ve looked to our weekend warrior-type volunteers to help out with projects that we’ve done on a Saturday morning. … Other Frolic volunteers are doing things like being stationed at the gates and taking tickets during the rodeo, working as ushers in the stands, coming to work parties.”

It’s the second straight year that the Frolic & Rodeo board moved forward through serious challenges. Last year, the board committed to holding the community celebration while COVID-19 restrictions remained in place. The risk ultimately paid off with rodeo seats that could be filled up after the state lifted restrictions in time for Frolic week.

The Frolic & Rodeo’s chosen theme for this year’s celebration is “Frolic in Paradise.”

Darrell Hinchberger, Frolic & Rodeo board president, said in the rodeo program, “With everyone wanting to travel again, but ticket prices being so high, we’ve decided to bring a little piece of tropical paradise to Philomath with this year’s theme.”

Workman, who is also on the board and handles the organization’s public relations, came up with the idea based on a personal experience — he and his wife have been planning for years to go to Hawaii after receiving money as an anniversary gift from family. But life’s circumstances have not allowed the trip to take place.

“That’s the personal side … but we see what flights are doing right now and people just want to be out, they want to travel, they want to see something new,” Workman said. “So the whole idea was let’s just bring a taste of the tropics to Philomath and the Frolic this year.”

For many years, the Frolic has revolved around the cowboy theme.

“The thought this year was just to change it up a little bit, so we’ll do ‘Frolic in Paradise’ and bring a little bit of tropical flair to the festivities this year,” Workman added. “Maybe a little more color in the floats this year — fewer browns and tans and oranges and maybe a little more of the pinks, reds, greens and blues.”

The Frolic promoted a tropical-themed event last month with its Golden Hour Community Party, complete with palm trees, tiki torches and colorful flowers in the Yew Wood Corral where it was held.

Temporary bleachers arrived early this week to add seating lost from last week’s fire. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Three nights of rodeo, fireworks, dance

The Northwest Pro Rodeo Association-sanctioned performances will start at 7 p.m. each of the three evenings — Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There will also be a free slack rodeo on Friday beginning at 11 a.m.

Scott Allen will continue his role as the longtime voice of the rodeo. B Bar D Rodeo returns as the stock contractor. The bullfighters will again be Jason McCall and Tory Cooper and Clint “Wolfey” Selvester is back as rodeo clown to entertain the crowd and distract the bulls. Jason Buchanan will handle music and sound.

For the third straight rodeo, wild steer racing will be featured during an evening rodeo intermission. Teams can register online.

There will be no Philomath Frolic & Rodeo queen and princess competition with those tryouts scheduled for later in the year. Corbie Johnson earned the Frolic & Rodeo queen with a reign that runs the full length of the calendar year.

The NPRA rodeo includes bareback riding, barrel racing, breakaway roping, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down roping. Tickets are required for ages 13 and older, junior tickets can be purchased for ages 6-12 and children 5 and under are free when sitting on a lap. A 20% discount is available for the weekend pass.

Tickets and parking can be purchased through the Frolic’s website. 

The Frolic & Rodeo’s annual fireworks show will light up Philomath skies following the Friday night performance with the start time estimated to be at around 9:30 p.m.

The organization contracts with a professional pyrotechnics provider that is licensed and bonded and Philomath Fire & Rescue will perform a pre-show inspection and remain on stand-by during the event.

Slicker will provide live music during the Friday and Saturday night dances in the Yew Wood Corral. On Thursday night, local DJ Jay McMullen will play country favorites and a variety of other genres.

“They’ve played here before and loved it — they played two years in a row,” Workman said. “We’re happy to have them back.”

Tickets for the Frolic dances are sold at the office on the day of the event.

The Grand Parade set for Saturday morning

The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Grand Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and will follow a route down Applegate Street from Philomath High School to Philomath Community Library. The Frolic & Rodeo board this year chose to honor Dale Collins and Tom Wright — both are major contributors to the community’s volunteer force.

“For the eight years I’ve been in Philomath now, they’re just great examples of very community-minded — sometimes out front, sometimes behind the scenes — people who do what’s needed to get things done,” Workman said, who followed up with a sampling of some of their activities from the downtown flower basket program to their work with the Lions Club.

For those who don’t sign up digitally ahead of time, they can still join the parade with registration and lining up beginning at 7 a.m. in the PHS parking lot.

Those who do register that morning would still need to go online via cellphone or other device and sign participation and insurance waivers. Organizers prefer entrants to sign up ahead of time so they have an idea of what to expect for entries.

Frolic offers several other fun events

Home Run Derby The Home Run Derby, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Philomath High’s varsity softball field, returns for the third year. Organizers are offering two brackets for adults and teens for the home run competition. In addition, for children 12 and under, there will be a farthest-hit contest.

Cornhole Tournaments — Another popular event returning to the Frolic will be a cornhole tournament — but instead of just one, organizers have expanded the activity to three events. 

The Thursday night tournament (5-7 p.m.) will be for youth under age 18, the Friday event (5-7 p.m.) will be for adults ages 18 on up and on Saturday (3-5 p.m.), it’s an open tournament for anyone of any age to enter.

Frolic PYAC Fish Rodeo — The seventh annual fish rodeo, which is organized and serves as a fundraiser for the Philomath Youth Activities Club, gives youngsters ages 12 and under an opportunity to catch a live trout with their bare hands. The event will on Saturday afternoon feature trout that are released into a pool of water at the rodeo grounds. Fish are even cleaned and cooked on site, if desired, or can be bagged to be taken home.

Tickets are $10 each and will go on sale beginning at 3 p.m. in an area behind the grandstands. The event begins at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Frolic 5K Family Fun Run/WalkThe 5-kilometer run returns for a third time and online registration is required for the event, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. The starting line will be located behind the rodeo arena grandstands with check-in beginning at 8 a.m.

Registration options are available for teams, individuals and families. Same-day online registration will be available up to the start of the race. Parking at the rodeo grounds on Friday morning will be free. In addition to the 5K course, there will be a 1K family-friendly course.

Sidewalk Chalk Roundup — The sidewalk-coloring contest for all ages is scheduled to run from 9-11 a.m. Friday at Philomath Community Library. Participation is free and no registration is required.

Professional Lumberjack Competition — Professional lumberjack competitors will square off beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at the rodeo grounds. Bleachers will be set up for spectators but those attending can also bring their own camping chairs to sit in. Admission is free.

Marys Peak Search and Rescue Chicken BBQ — Marys Peak Search and Rescue will be back with its popular barbecued half-chicken meals. The group will be serving on both Friday and Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. until the food is gone. No advance tickets are needed; pay on site.

Lions Club Rodeo Breakfast — The Philomath Lions Club Annual Rodeo Breakfast will run for three hours from 7-10 a.m. Saturday in the rodeo grounds shelter area. No advance tickets are needed; pay on site.

Food Booths and Craft Vendors — The Frolic will feature several types of food booths, craft vendors and others that will be participating this year.

Kids Korner — The Frolic’s Kids Corner will provide youth with opportunities from 5-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 3-7 p.m. Saturday.

• Wednesday, July 6: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Home Run Derby, 6:30 p.m.
• Thursday, July 7: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Kids Corner, 5-7 p.m.
• Thursday, July 7: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Youth Cornhole Tournament, 5-7 p.m.
• Thursday, July 7: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo NPRA Rodeo, 7 p.m.
• Thursday, July 7: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Dance, 9:30 p.m.-midnight
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Adult Cornhole Tournament, 5-7 p.m.
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Sidewalk Chalk Roundup!, 9-11 a.m.
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Slack Rodeo, 11 a.m.
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s Marys Peak Search and Rescue Chicken BBQ, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Kids Corner, 5-7 p.m.
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo NPRA Rodeo, 7 p.m.
• Friday, July 8: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Dance, 9:30 a.m.-midnight
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s Lions Club Annual Cowboy Breakfast, 7-10 a.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Family 5K Fun Run, 9 a.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Grand Parade, 10 a.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s Marys Peak Search and Rescue Chicken BBQ, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Kids Corner, 3-7 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Cornhole Tournament, 3-5 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Professional Lumberjack Competition, 2 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic PYAC Fish Rodeo, 4-6 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo NPRA Rodeo, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9: Philomath Frolic & Rodeo Dance, 9:30 p.m.-midnight

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.