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Justin McKee has been the announcer for the annual Fourth of July rite for nearly two decades.

Even though it is nearly 2,000 miles from his native Oklahoma, Justin McKee considers Oregon his second home.COURTESY PHOTO: HOOT CREEK - Oklahoma native Justin McKee leans out of the announcer's stand as he calls the action at the St. Paul Rodeo.

The longtime voice of the St. Paul Rodeo, a former TV announcer for the Professional Bull Riders organization and now a host on the Cowboy Channel, says St. Paul in particular reminds him of his ancestral homeland in Lenapah, Oklahoma, where his family lived until a year ago when they moved to Texas.

"There's an atmosphere of love of country and community that are important in St. Paul," he said. "There's a great spirit and maybe it's the rodeo and the tradition. It's a fun spirit. It's magical."

'McKee-isms'

During the nearly 20 years he has served as a commentator on the Cowboy Channel, the official network of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, McKee has become known for a number of colorful sayings: "As gritty as sand in your scrambled eggs"; "Bucked off faster than the banker could tell me no"; and "Spinning like a weathervane in a hurricane."

"When you're on TV every week you have to come up with new stuff," he said. "That's when I went stealing, creating, looking and always thinking" of new and different sayings.

McKee has used his platform as a commentator and producer of a show called ProRodeo Tonight to tell the stories of cowboys and cowgirls. He doesn't have to go far for inspiration: his 21-year-old daughter, Kassidy, is a barrel racer and was also selected as Miss Rodeo Oklahoma Teen in 2016.

A sweet deal

Anyone who has witnessed McKee's performance in the announcer's booth knows he doesn't restrict his comments to rodeo, but rather waxes on about everything from patriotism to the local fare, a subject he is particularly passionate about. Over the years it has become tradition for McKee to sample a world class tasty treat, thanks to the St. Paul High School Booster Club.

"The booster club wants to sell strawberry shortcake and I want to eat strawberry shortcake. It's real simple," McKee said. "To repay my ability to drive business to their stand, they bring me strawberry shortcake. It's a very fair trade."


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