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Organizers hope that the state will increase the capacity allowed inside the arena for the annual Fourth of July rite.

COURTESY PHOTO: ST. PAUL RODEO ASSOCIATION - The St. Paul Rodeo is slated to begin two weeks from today and tickets went on sale in earnest last week.

The St. Paul Rodeo is slated to begin June 30, and tickets went on sale in earnest last week. What remains to be seen, in light of pandemic restrictions, is how many tickets will be sold and how many people will be allowed to witness the holiday tradition during its four-day run.

Marion County, in which the tiny town of St. Paul resides, remained in the high-risk category set by the Oregon Health Authority as of June 4. That category restricts the daily capacity of the arena crowd to 15% or roughly 1,500 spectators. That number could climb precipitously if Marion County moves to the moderate risk category as COVID-19 cases reported decrease and the number of people vaccinated increases. The risk categories are released by the OHA each Monday.

"If the rodeo were to happen today under high-risk the capacity limits would be 15%," rodeo general manager Cindy Scholholtz said in an email. "We have heard from the governor's office they expect to reach the 70% threshold for vaccinations, which will remove those capacity limits before our rodeo, so we are optimistic that we will reach that benchmark."

Rodeo officials started ticket sales last year but put them on pause due to the potential for capacity limits and the uncertain nature of the pandemic. Officials added that tickets sales would resume when a plan was put in place for whatever capacity the state would allow.

Regardless of capacity calculations and pandemic restrictions, the return of the 85th year of the nation's largest and most prestigious Fourth of July rodeo is cause for celebration after it was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Set for June 30 through July 4, the annual rite takes place in a town of just 480 people, but typically draws tens of thousands of people to enjoy the sights, sounds and aromas of the action inside and outside the arena.

"We are proud to be a family celebration where moms and dads, kids and grandkids, grandmas and grand-dads can get together, enjoy each other's company and celebrate Independence Day," Scholholtz said, adding that the informal theme for this year's event is "More fun in '21."

Featured inside the arena will be the antics of rodeo clowns like JJ Harrison, the daring deeds of the Full Throttle trick riding act, bull and bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and other traditional rodeo events. Outside the arena the rodeo's legendary midway will feature all manner of foods to delight even the most discriminating palate: strawberry shortcake featuring local berries, barbecue chicken thanks to the local Catholic parish, cotton candy, popcorn and more.

The popular Bull Pen and Tack Room will return this year as well, as will the rides that are favorites with the younger crowd at the rodeo.

Rodeo performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. each evening, with a 1:30 matinee set for the Fourth of July. Although entrance into the midway is free, tickets for the rodeo run $16 to $26, not including the convenience fee, and can be purchased at StPaulRodeo.com.


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