My hometown is one of my favorite places in the entire world.
Nestled in the Willamette Valley, Molalla is the perfect small country town located about 40 minutes from Portland. The town is named after the Native American tribe that was located here, but has now died out. Little of their history remains; just a few of their words (“nanga!”) and their spirit embodied by all of us on high school game days.
It has that small town charm, but it livens up exponentially in the summer. If there is one spot in town that is the place to be come the fourth of July, it’s the Buckeroo Grounds.
( image courtesy of molallabuckeroo.com )
In 1913, the Portland, Eugene and Eastern railway had finally made it’s way to the small town of Molalla. In celebration, the idea for the rodeo – or buckeroo – was born. The stands were build in 1925 and has been the home of the Molalla Buckeroo ever since.
The buckeroo consists of bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, and ( let’s be honest ) some delicious food and drinks too!
( image courtesy of thingstodoinportland.com )
Events at the Molalla Buckeroo grounds span over several months, but the highlight of the summer is the first four days of July.
Adjacent to the Molalla Buckeroo grand stands is a large open space where the annual Fourth of July Carnival is set up. As a kid, this used to be the best part of the fourth! There is a large collection of carnival rides, games, and food to choose from. Many families retreat to the shade of the trees for a picnic lunch.
On the fourth itself, two events pass right in front of the buckeroo grounds. First, the Freedom 5k racers run the parade route! It’s a great way to get a workout in and all of the racers have the whole town to cheer them on!
( photo courtesy of molallarunningclub.com )
From left to right: my oldest sister Kalee, my younger sisters’ boyfriend Kole, baby sister Jennifer, me.
Immediately following the Freedom 5k is the Fourth of July parade! This three mile long route is teeming with people lining the streets to watch the firemen, rodeo court, members of the El Gallo Mexican festival, children, dancers, and many others pass by with a handful of candy.
( image courtesy of pamplinmedia.com )
These events kickstart the matinee rodeo that starts that afternoon and 1pm and the 8pm rodeo. I’m not joking when I tell you that nearly everyone in town shows up for at least one of these events. I always joke the the buckeroo is a nice little annual high school reunion!
Inside the rodeo grounds there are a few other things to enjoy besides just the rodeo. There is a beer garden for those 21 and over, a mechanical bull, food and souvenir stalls, as well as a dance tent. Inside the dance tent, there’s live music! The Molalla Buckeroo grounds truly does hold something for everyone, so if the actual buckeroo isn’t for you, there is still plenty to do!
Each night, the buckeroo is capped off with an explosive and colorful firework display. The buckeroo grounds shut off the lights so the colors are even more vibrant. You wouldn’t necessarily have to be at the buckeroo grounds to enjoy this, but the experience of being so close with the largest silent group of people is really something else.
Now that I am living in Washington DC, I am on the hunt for a place around here that is as exciting and fun to be as the Molalla Buckeroo! A great website that is helping me discover some new places is Eventbrite. You can use it too! Whether you’re looking for an event to attend in your area or if you want to get your own event information and tickets out there, it’s fantastic!
If you’re putting on your own event, you might want to check out their event management and sell tickets pages. These are extremely useful and have some free event management tools for you to utilize in order to spread the word about your event and track it’s progress!
But seriously. It helps you find live music, sports games, festivals, restaurants, networking… the list goes on.
Have any of you used Eventbrite before? What are your hometown highlights? Let me in on the secret!