On the Beat column artwork

This could turn out to be one of the most memorable rodeo summers ever in Philomath.

First, several other rodeos in the region chose to cancel this summer to leave a higher competitive caliber of cowboys and cowgirls available to appear in the local arena. Second, all pandemic-related restrictions will be history by the time our community celebration arrives. And third, it all adds up to getting together with one another in a way that hasn’t been possible for more than a year — and isn’t that going to be a welcomed feeling?

“It’s not going to look or feel any different than it did in 2019,” Frolic & Rodeo publicity and events chair Chris Workman said. “The only exception is a few of our volunteers are still a little bit concerned with the amount of contact with all of the individuals, like at the ticket office, so we’re going to put up some plexiglass.”

OK, we can deal with plexiglass, right? The big news here is that those previous restrictions that Frolic & Rodeo organizers had to implement will be gone. No less-than-capacity crowds on rodeo nights. No proof of vaccination to sit in a particular section. No social distancing at the cornhole tournament or the fish rodeo.

“We’ve updated the website, we’ve pulled all of the COVID restrictions off of there,” Workman said. “We have two sections of reserved seating, three sections of general admission seating, you can prepurchase any of those tickets for any of those sections now.”

Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order Friday for Oregon to fully reopen with no restrictions by June 30 at the latest. It could be sooner if the state reaches the 70% first dose adult vaccination rate. No restrictions means the lifting of Oregon’s mask mandate and social distancing. It also allows businesses to eliminate capacity limits.

“This is a pivotal moment for Oregon,” Brown said during a press conference. “We have endured a lot over the past several months.”

It should be noted that the Frolic & Rodeo folks could’ve taken the easy path and just canceled again like many other events around the state at the beginning of May. But they took a gamble and waited a few more weeks with the intense desire to provide a celebration for this community. Restrictions at the time were eased and it was full steam ahead.

And now, we can enjoy the full experience … as long as we don’t have any 110-degree days.

Be a little extra careful with fireworks

The fireworks stands are operating in town and with the dry conditions and hot temperatures, please be careful with setting them off to not only keep yourself and your kids safe, but to avoid setting any fires.

Fireworks restrictions are in place in a few spots around the South Willamette Valley, such as in the Eugene city limits south of 18th Avenue and East of Agate Street. Here in Philomath, we have no current restrictions in town.

Fireworks are prohibited on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and other state and federal lands with all districts now in “fire season.” That designation means certain activities are restricted to help prevent human-caused fires. So, it’s illegal to use fireworks, tracer ammunition and exploding targets in those areas.

By the way, here are a few staggering statistics. Last year, the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office reported that people were to blame for 70% of the wildfires in Oregon. And so far this year, that figure has jumped to 98%.

Capt. Rich Saalsaa with Philomath Fire & Rescue said not all of those are intentional, of course, with most involving small burn piles that went out of control. Saalsaa said that currently, no backyard burning is allowed in Benton County.

People parking in tall grass (hot exhaust), improper cigarette disposal, mowing during high temperatures (the blades hitting rocks or objects that generate a spark), or dragging trailer chains behind their vehicle (throwing off sparks) can all lead to fires.

For example, this past Tuesday, a cigarette that had been thrown on the ground at the Philomath Post Office sparked a small bark dust fire.

“This high temperature event this weekend will dry out the forest and grasses even faster and people need to pay attention to changes in restrictions that may happen over the next couple of weeks leading to the Fourth of July weekend,” Saalsaa said.

Micah Matthews and his decathlon record

Philomath High School track and field coach Joe Fulton reported this past week that Micah Matthews, a junior-to-be this fall, broke the school record in the decathlon at the Summit Decathlon-Heptathlon competition in Bend on June 18-19.

Matthews scored 4,874 points in the 10-event, two-day competition, bettering the previous record of 4,561 set in 2011 by Zach Trask.

Matthews sprinted the 100-meter dash in 12.2 seconds, the 400 in 58.4 seconds, the 110 hurdles in 17.2 seconds and ran the 1,500 in 5:27. In the field events, he had a distance of 34 feet, 6 inches in the shot put, 86 feet in the discus, 105 feet in the javelin and 17-10 in the long jump, along with clearing 11 feet in the pole vault and 5-11.75 in the high jump.

Fulton noted that his high jump performance was seventh-best by a 4A athlete this year.

Congrats to Micah on his school record.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).