A family atmosphere
It's not uncommon as Crooked River Roundup board members and volunteers toil and scramble to host Crook County's flagship event to find their kids hanging around the grounds.
In fact, it's practically a tradition, not necessarily by design, but one that is poised to continue for generations to come.
Justin Severance may be a relative newcomer to the board, now in his third year, but thanks to his dad, Dan, he and his brother, Travis, have been immersed in the Roundup since their childhood.
"We always enjoyed it," Justin said. "It is kind of a family thing for us."
Before last year when Dan stepped down from the board, Justin served as a director with his dad and brother. This year is a bit different, but thanks to Dan's selection as Grand Marshal, all three family members will again play a prominent role in the 2019 Roundup.
"That's the thing about rodeo in Central Oregon. It is more family-oriented," Justin remarked. "It's just a time to get together and be with friends and family and make something neat for the community."
The Severance family is not the only one featuring multiple generations of Roundup experience. Multiple members of the Bernard family have been involved with the event in a variety of capacities. Jerry Bernard, who served as the 2011 Grand Marshal, has been a member of the board for more than 35 years, and his children and grandchildren are no strangers to the rodeo grounds.
His son, Brett, began helping with the Roundup back when he was in high school. He started out as an associate member, according to his wife, Jill, and joined the board in 1996. He remained a director until stepping down last year.
Brett and Jill have been married for nearly 26 years, and the couple has worked with the Roundup for nearly the entire duration of their marriage. She also joined the board in 1996, serving until 2001 and holding such positions as secretary and treasurer during that tenure.
"In 1998, I became the paymaster of purses for the horse races — basically the horsemen's bookkeeper. I am still doing that," Jill added.
All three of their children have spent time at the rodeo grounds since a young age, pitching in where they can and spending time with all of the other board members and volunteers.
"My kids have all been in the playpen at the fairgrounds. They basically grew up down there because most of our summers were pretty involved," Jill remarked. "It is a family atmosphere, and the kids have always been welcome and loved on. They want to be involved. They love it."
Some of the Roundup organizers have a family history that extends back to the early days of the event. Kara Snider, for example, is the granddaughter of Jerry Breese, whom she notes was one of the original members of the board of directors.
When he was later named Grand Marshal during the 1980s, he asked Kara and her sister, Vikki, to ride with him in the parade. It was just the latest in many Roundup moments during her childhood.
"In the summertime, my grandpa and dad always took us to the Roundup," Kara recalls. "That was just the one thing that we did."
Kara didn't anticipate her involvement in the event would go beyond those moments. But as fate would have it, she married a man named Jason Snider who ended up serving on the board and ultimately taking the role of board president.
"When Jason was involved in it, there were some things that it looked like my skill set could help with," she said, adding that she had experience running nonprofits. "The board hired me as the general manager three years ago."
With the couple so involved in the Roundup, it was perhaps inevitable that their kids would spend some time around the rodeo grounds. Kara said that her kids have spent time down there helping out and hanging out during work parties and other events.
"The parents seem to get their kids involved," she said.
Like Kara, Doug Smith has family that played a role in the Roundup's formation. He points out that when the event was originally launched, two of his great-uncles, Lance Smith and Herm Meder, were founding members.
That was just the beginning of a family legacy. In 1956, around the time Doug was born, his father, Art, joined the Roundup board.
"He had been a contestant in the Roundup for a few years prior to that," he remarked, adding that his dad served on the board for the next 25 years. Doug added that another great-uncle, Sumner Houston, was involved in the Roundup as both a contestant and a grand marshal.
Like other children of board members and volunteers, Doug spent time helping out at the rodeo grounds, moving irrigation pipe, picking rocks and getting to know the characters that made the Roundup tick.
As he was entering adulthood in the late 1970s, the board was looking for some younger members, and they considered Doug a good fit.
"In 1976, at the ripe age of 19, I was elected to the board of directors," he said.
Though he got involved with the Roundup because of an interest in rodeo, board members would ultimately turn to him to take charge of the horse races. He had little knowledge of the sport and was unsure how he would do as the director of racing, but he spent the next 37 years in that position on the board and grew quite fond of the horse races in the process.
When Doug stepped down from the board — a temporary departure that lasted about five years — it marked the first time that a member of his family had not served on the board since it was formed.
He doesn't necessarily expect any of his sons to continue the family tradition in the years ahead, but since they spent their childhood around the Roundup, helping out when needed, Doug figures any of them would be a perfect fit on the board.
"They understand it, they have heard me talk, and they ask enough questions around home that they would be a natural fit," he said.
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