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The cowgirl in me

I have a confession to make. When I was younger, I was mad at my parents for being city folk.

All throughout my childhood, I was plagued with the feeling that I was a country girl being forced to live an urban life. As a result, I grew up rather jealous of my friends who lived in the country.

I thought they were living my dream, with horses to ride and barns to play in, but I soon found out that I was living theirs. While they were stuck 15 miles from town with parents who weren't interested in being their personal chauffeurs, I could go wherever my feet or bike would carry me.

With all that freedom and opportunity, I really couldn't hold a grudge against mom and dad. I was raised in Montana, after all, and even though we owned neither horse nor steer, there were still plenty of things to do to nurture the cowgirl in me. One of those was the College National Finals Rodeo. It was held in my hometown of Bozeman all through my growing-up years, and I would beg my folks to take me.

Even after I grew up, I remained a dedicated fan of the CNFR. My favorite part of the rodeo was always the very beginning, when competitors representing every college would ride around the arena at a full gallop, flying their flags while a peppy country tune blared through the enormous speakers suspended from the dome ceiling. I loved that part so much that by the time the riders had reined in and lined up in formation, I would be choked up with emotion. I can't explain it. Rodeos just do that to me.

When I moved to Southern Oregon 21 years ago, the thing I missed most about Montana were those rodeos. I didn’t think anything could ever compare to that experience, but this year the cowgirl in me decided to give the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo in Central Point another try. Decked out in my cowgirl duds and with my daughter in tow, I parked myself in the bleachers and tried to keep an open mind.

I don't know if enough time had finally passed, or if this rodeo had improved in recent years, but both my daughter and I had to admit that it was a pretty darn good rodeo. In fact, it even inspired us to consider attending the National Final Rodeo in Las Vegas — that is, until we found out the tickets start at $200 a pop! I realized then that I am just a rodeo junkie wanting to recreate the high from my CNFR glory days. Instead, I think it’s time to just grow up and enjoy the rodeo that’s in my own backyard. It may not be the CNFR, but since it's home to the only 100-point bull ride in rodeo history, maybe I could learn to get choked up about that … just for old-time’s sake.

Salina Christaria lives in Medford.