Each year, for the past 75, the tiny town of St. Paul, OR (pop 390) has held one of the biggest professional rodeos in the country, for several days preceding the 4th of July. We went a couple years ago, but were shut out of entering the competition, as I didn’t have the foresight to imagine it was a sell-out. Not to be thwarted this year, I bought tickets in advance, and, away we went on Saturday, to take in the rodeo, accompanying carnival, and of course, carny food.
Not a whole lot of surprises in the food arena, all the usual carny fare, ranging from hot dogs, burgers, burritos, churros, pizza, bbq, and the like. Local (St. Paul) vendors were offering strawberry short cake and chicken dinners, as is there own tradition.
Mrs. BDB said she’d go for a turkey leg, if one was on offer, us having not been to any renaissance fairs lately, me, I was undecided, but finally opted for a big sausage, and we’d share chili cheese fries on the side.
By happy coincidence, there was one booth that offered all three, and it was a madhouse, as good be expected. We ordered, were served, and wrangled our way into a couple of seats at the picnic tables, far too few tables for the diners, and some folks were a little uppity about claiming their perches (including BurgerDogBoy). Settled in, we launched into lunch, and Mrs. BDB proclaimed it one of the best turkey legs she had ever had, smokey, crispy skin, juicy meat. I would have grabbed a photo, but probably would have had my hand bit off. One knows better than to get between Mrs. BDB and her food!
The sausage was a disappointment, they were reheating them on a griddle, and this puppy could have used some char. It had hot dog spices and flavor, so I played with it more than ate it. The chili cheese fries were fresh spiral cut fries, chili with beans, and the same cheese sauce used for the nachos. Better than most carny food, but I knew I’d pay in the morning. We passed on the strawberry short cake (big mistake) but did opt for a caramel apple with sprinkles, which was grand.
We didn’t have great seats for the rodeo, but it was fun for about 90 minutes, at which point it was time for us to head to the beer tent ($10 cover, $5 a cup), and we stayed for about an hour, listening to a country band with an androgynous sound engineer. Fireworks followed, and a pleasant drive home, meandering up US 99, with a stop at a fireworks booth midnight for the next days festivities.
The St. Paul rodeo is a great way to experience rural Oregon, and take in a lot of bullshit at the same time!