17 miles to rodeo greatness

 About 17 miles northwest of Keizer, one of America’s best rodeos will take place in St. Paul during Independence Day weekend. 

More than 600 cowboys and cowgirls and 50,000 fans will pour into the small town to experience the 88-year old tradition. 

Of the nine reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) world champions, eight of them will compete in St. Paul: all-around and bull riding champion Stetson Wright, bareback rider Jess Pope, steer wrestler Tyler Waguespack, tie-down roper Caleb Smidt, team ropers Kaleb Driggers, and Junior Nogueira and saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston. 

There’s a reason the big-name cowboys and cowgirls come to St. Paul, said Matt Weishoff, St. Paul Rodeo Association board member. 

“It’s the money,” he said. Last year, the rodeo paid out over $430,000, with champions winning upwards of $12,000 each. 

St. Paul “is the largest rodeo (for the July 4 holiday), and in the top 15 (in the nation), as far as added money goes,” Weishoff said. 

But the incentive for contestants is more than financial. The heritage of the rodeo is a pull, Weishoff said.

“It’s a pretty unique venue,” he said, referring to the wooden bleachers in the arena. “And for such a small town to be putting on such a big production, people like that. Everybody likes to be part of it.”

The rodeo runs Friday, June 30 to TuesdayJuly 4, with performances at 7:30 p.m. each night and a 1:30 p.m. matinee on July 4.

There will be many events and activities throughout the five-day event with fireworks each night. The rodeo parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4. For a full calendar of events visit

Tickets are available online at They range in price from $20 to $60.

For more information, visit the website or call 800-237-5920.