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A new experience for some and a voyage home for others, the rodeo brought good cheer and fun to St. Helens.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Columbia County Rodeo Court Princess Sophie Parrott rides with fellow rodeo court royalty at the rodeo in St. Helens.Local riders made appearances at the Columbia County Rodeo last weekend.

Columbia City's Mike Reed took first in novice saddle bronc at the St. Helens event, held by the Northwest Pro Rodeo Association.

Reed was ranked in the top 15 in saddle bronc in NPRA standings after the weekend.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Seth Hart, of St. Helens, competes in saddle bronc.Only one other Columbia County resident made NPRA standings at that time: Blake Sofich, in tie-down roping.

Sofich, from Scappoose, tied for sixth place in tie-down roping at the rodeo.

Brothers Dylan and Seth Hart competed in separate events over the weekend at their hometown rodeo.

Seth Hart, the elder at 22, competed in saddle bronc but didn't make the cut for a payoff.

Hart said his rides started off well.

"I just got way behind throughout my rides and bucked off," Hart said.

For most rodeos, Hart is a few hours from home.

"Feels a lot different riding in my hometown rodeo, (a) lot more exciting with all my family and friends there to cheer me on," Hart said.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Kelsy Heller and her horse Opie race to the finish line after rounding the barrels.

Kelsy Heller, a 21-year-old from Warren, also noted the fun of hometown rodeos.

Heller ran sponsor flags on one of her younger horses, and competed in barrel racing.

"We had a little trouble with our run this weekend," Heller said. "My horse, Opie, was working really good for me and I got over excited and turned him on top of the first barrel which hurt our time and added five seconds onto it as well."

Heller has been barrel racing for 10 years, but rodeoing less than half that time. She's owned Opie, now 11, since he was four.

Heller said Opie "has challenged me in so many different ways" in their years together, "but he's finally becoming a lot of fun, and he absolutely thrives in the rodeo performance atmosphere."

Heller said she wasn't able to compete as much in 2020, so this season was slower-paced.

"But we are already excited to be back next year, better than ever," Heller added.

Amanda Lee, of Deer Island, hit 17.9 seconds on her mare Cookie in barrel racing. Lee was just out of the placings; the sixth-place finisher ran 17.8 seconds.

"We could have done better, but the rodeo atmosphere is a lot different than the jackpots that we're used to," Lee said.

Lee said her mare usually competes in the upper divisions in jackpots, but isn't accustomed to the crowded, loud environment of a rodeo. PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Tiffany Thompson competes in barrel racing at the Columbia County Rodeo on Saturday, July 17.

Tiffany Thompson said her horse Roxie "just keeps making my dreams a reality." Thompson finished 18.19.

"Those girls are tough, wow," Thompson wrote in a Facebook post, "but it was awesome to run in front of all those people."

Miss NPRA 2021 Nicole Rice represented the association and her hometown at the rodeo. Rice, who lives in Scappoose, started as Miss NPRA 2020 but had her term extended. Another local former Miss NPRA, Baylee Crawford, sang the national anthem at the rodeo.

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