The St. Paul Rodeo runs deep in the veins of the Richard and Christy Cloepfil family of Carlton, Oregon.
Not only have they and their three daughters been part of it, Richard is the third generation of his family to be involved.
It started with Richard’s grandfather, Harry Kuehne, owner of the Bar K Stock Ranch in Carlton. A horse trader, Harry was one of the original stock holders of the St. Paul Rodeo and provided livestock for the rodeo.
Richard, the son of Harry’s daughter Arlene, remembers riding in the St. Paul Rodeo parade when he was three, on the saddle with his dad, Darrel, “Boise.” As a four-year-old, he was “grown up enough” to ride his own pony through the parade. His mom Arlene, a horsewoman, roman rode at the rodeo on a matching pair of palomino horses.
Two of Richard’s relatives: aunt Maxine Kuehne, was on the court, as was his sister, Linda Cloepfil Boline, who also went on to serve as Miss Rodeo Oregon.
Richard and Christy had the next set of St. Paul Rodeo royalties, but with a twist.
Their youngest daughter, Regina, wanted to try out for the title of St. Paul Rodeo princess, but she wanted her older sister, Adrea, to try out with her. Gina’s plan was that she and her sister would win the two princess titles and serve together. Addie was willing to try out, but her heart wasn’t in it as much as her sister’s was.
But the irony was that Addie won a princess title, and Gina won nothing. “There wasn’t much conversation on the way home,” Richard quipped. That was in 2005, and Gina tried again, winning a princess title in 2007 and the queen title the next year.
Being on the royal court requires a parent as chaperone, and for Richard and Christy to leave their farm was tough. They credit their oldest daughter, Kelsey, with staying home to oversee employees and the work while they were gone weekends for the two younger girls.
The family attended when the girls were kids, but as they married and left home, they haven’t had the whole clan with grandkids at the rodeo together.
This year, they will be.
Kelsey is married to Mike Freese and lives in Yamhill with their son and triplet daughters.
The other two Cloepfil girls live in Australia: Adra and husband Jarrod Vinen, with two sons in Sydney, and Gina and husband Greg Walter and their two daughters, in Melbourne.
Because of pandemic restrictions, the Vinens and Walters haven’t been to the States since 2019.
The girls and their kids arrive In early June for “grandpa and grandma camp”, with the husbands coming in late June.
While in the States, Richard and Christy have fun things planned for the kids: camping out on the front lawn, bonfires, “backyard fun,” Christy said.
They’ll all attend the St. Paul Rodeo, the parade, the carnival, the fireworks, and all the activities.
The grandparents are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the entire clan. With eight grandkids between the ages of two and a half and seven, Christy thought about cleaning house to prepare for them, but decided against it, saying she’d have to clean house after they left.
The friends they’ll reconnect with at the St. Paul Rodeo, not only for the daughters but Richard and Christy too, are “invaluable,” Richard said.
He remembers his parents’ and grandparents’ generations, when the St. Paul Rodeo was often the only time the family left the farm for entertainment during the summer. “It was maybe the biggest thing they did each year, besides working on the farm.”
Times have changed, but the St. Paul Rodeo is still a big deal.
“We enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a good time.”
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. Fireworks follow each night show.
Tickets are available online at StPaulRodeo.com and at the gate. They range in price from $20 to $26.
For more information, visit the website or call 800.237.5920.