The tradition began 64 years ago when the first frolic was organized in 1953. As the event grew, in 1983 the rodeo was added, creating what is now the regionally renowned Philomath Frolic and Rodeo.
With over 5,000 tickets sold each year, not including attendees under the age of 6, the event now attracts more people than the town's population, and is its largest annual event.
In the past year, there has been uncertainty about the future of the Frolic and Rodeo because of possible land use restrictions, leaving many community members wondering about its longevity. But the tradition will continue now that Paul and Lola Skirvin have donated the 15-acre property used for the grounds to the city.
Now that the future is certain, the event's board of executives needs volunteers to help during the weekends leading up to and during the event. This year’s Frolic and Rodeo will be held July 6 - 9.
With the transfer of land ownership, there is now means to start putting money into improvements. Chris Workman, city manager and president of the event's executive board, is currently mapping out a five-year facilities plan for prioritizing upgrades.
“The lights, the grandstands—those are the big ticket items,” he said. “You don’t replace those things if you don’t know if you’re going to be here. Now we can do those things.”
To attract visitors from all walks of life, organizers have continued their focus on adding special events to the festivities. This year's new event added to the schedule is a freestyle bull riding contest.
“It’s basically like Spanish spear fighting without the spears,” said Workman.
The bulls used in the competition are Mexican bulls, smaller and more aggressive than other breeds. The competition includes distracting with colorful cloth, dodging the charging bull, and jumping over the bull. Points will be given for performance, style, and for not getting run over by the bull.
Thirty bull riders will travel to Philomath from Texas, Colorado, Washington, and greater Oregon. With a grand prize of around $4,000, stiff competition is expected as well as a showcase of talent, all from the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association.
“This is a new rodeo event nationwide and we’re right on the fringe in Oregon,” said Workman. “This will be the largest bull riding event in Oregon ever, and there will be three national champions of Oregon here.”
With organizers working towards a goal of keeping the Frolic and Rodeo true to its tradition, they also aim to keep it fresh and fun.
“Everything we do is looking at the fan experience and trying to improve it,” said Workman.
With that in mind, organizers have decided to move vendors behind the grandstands, reducing walk and wait time. Beer will also be allowed in the stands, eliminating the need to gather in the beer garden away from friends or family.
To help manage lines in the entrance area, tickets sales will now be available online. Tickets can be printed at home or scanned from one’s phone at the entrance. Buying tickets online includes a reduction in price and free parking.
Care has also been put into scheduling events to ensure they are not overlapping each other, another complaint organizers have heard and addressed.
A fan favorite—the fish rodeo—will be back. Two-hundred tickets will be available to catch 12-inch trout by hand. Organizers want volunteers to design merchandise for the event.
“We could have shirts that say ‘no hook, no pull, no problem,'” Workman said.
The amount of time spent is up to each volunteer. Pulling weeds, trimming trees, mowing fields, or preparing facilities are all on the list of things to do.
“There’s always chores to be done,” said Darrell Hinchberger, vice president of management on the executive board. “I don’t think we’ve ever said no to anyone; everyone is welcome.”
For more information or to volunteer, contact Chris Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org.