It’s time to people-watch in Oakdale, and what better place than to watch them march down the middle of F Street to the beat of their own drums – or to the clip clop of horses’ hooves – than at the 62nd Annual Oakdale Rodeo Parade?
The parade starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 and features some of the best dressed cowboys and cowgirls of different ages, as well as horse-mounted groups, floats, horse drawn vehicles, marching groups, bands, special cars, costumed groups, and more.
Oakdale Rodeo Parade organizer Donnie Schwandt reported that there will be 80 to 100 entries in the parade.
“It’s a great community event promoting the rodeo,” he said, adding that the parade has widespread appeal and brings people in the community together.
Schwandt has been involved with planning the parade for 13 years and said that the parade takes place every year, regardless of the weather.
“We’re going to have it no matter what,” he said. “It always turns out good, rain or shine.”
Observers line F Street in downtown Oakdale to watch the parade and show up early to stake their claim for the best spots to sit on the sidewalk, spreading out blankets and lawn chairs and settling in for the show.
Leading the parade this year as the Grand Marshal is long-time Oakdale Saddle Club secretary Jackie Conner.
“I’ve been a Saddle Club member for 20 years and she’s always been the secretary since then,” Schwandt said. “She’s done a lot for the Saddle Club.”
In fact, Conner has been the OSC secretary for 28 years. She joined the Saddle Club in 1977, took on the secretary duties in 1982 and did that for two years. She then took a two-year hiatus and returned to it in 1985 and hasn’t stopped since.
“She deals with the PRCA, club members, and a lot of different facets of the Saddle Club,” Schwandt added.
Also during Conner’s time at the club, she served for several years as the Publicity/Information chairperson, became the club Historian – a position she still holds, handled concessionaires, and “put in a lot of time working in the Cook Shack.”
While Conner grew up as a “big city girl” in Berkeley, she enjoyed listening to The Riders of the Purple Sage and Sons of the Pioneers, while her parents were into opera and “long-hair” music. She learned English-style horsemanship from her mother.
She earned her master’s degree in psychology and worked for many years as a school psychologist, but had a brief time where she “cowgirled” on a cattle ranch in Arkansas. Over the years she continued to ride horses and has competed in cattle penning and sorting, winning seven belt buckles, and also at Playdays. She also enjoys the OSC’s annual trail ride in the summer and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Oakdale Cowboy Museum.
The Oakdale Rodeo Parade will start at the corner of Mann Avenue and F Street at 9 a.m. on Saturday and heads east on F Street. It ends at the Foothill Shopping Center (Save Mart) near Maag Avenue. The parade is approximately a two-hour event. Parade contestants must assemble at Wood and F streets by 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning and get their contestant number and line up instructions. The rodeo parade judges’ tables will be stationed along the parade route at three different locations: in front of Walgreen’s, the H-B, and Ryderz restaurant.
Awards will be given out in front of Save Mart immediately following the end of the parade and will be handed out until noon. Schwandt said that Save Mart has always been very cooperative with the parade effort.