St. Paul Rodeo announces its 2017 inductees
St. Paul, Ore. (June 19, 2017) – He’s the first of his type to be inducted into the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo Hall of Fame, and in his prime, he brought fear and intimidation to the hearts of his opponents.
Red Rock, one of the most famous bulls in rodeo history, leads the class of 2017 as they will be inducted into the St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame on June 29.
The bull was born in 1976 and raised near Burns, Ore. As a two-year-old, the red tiger-striped brindle Brahma-Hereford cross was purchased by Mert Hunking. He gained a reputation for bucking off all of his riders, and word got out that this bull was special.
In 1984, Don Kish and John Growney bought the bull, sight unseen, for $10,000, which was an unheard of amount of money for a bull at that time, Growney said. They took him to PRCA rodeos, where his unridden streak continued. When they purchased him, Kish realized he had gotten on the bull at a rodeo in Silver Lake, Oregon, where he had been bucked off.
Not only did he have a 100% buck-off rate during competition, but he was incredibly smart. It seemed Red Rock could sense what the rider was about to do, and would turn the opposite way, which resulted in throwing the rider off. Kish said it was like Red Rock knew which hand the bull rider was riding with. “He knew what hand a guy was using,” Kish said. “He always bucked away from their hand.” And when he bucked a cowboy off, he bucked them off so hard they were disoriented and had to be shown which direction the chutes were.
Red Rock was gentle, Kish said. He was bottle-raised after being orphaned, and “dog gentle. You could pet him, you could walk up to him in the corral and jump on him. We’ve got pictures of little kids riding him.” And after he bucked a rider off, he wouldn’t go after them, but would head for the out gate.
Red Rock is best known for the matchups with the famous bull rider Lane Frost. The matchups were publicized up and down the West Coast, and out of seven of them, Frost covered Red Rock four times. The sixth match was at the St. Paul Rodeo on July 4, 1988, where Red Rock bucked off Frost, tying the matchup at three to three.
Red Rock was retired from pro rodeo competition in 1987 at the age of eleven, an unusually long time for a bucking bull to work. After 309 official buck-offs and no cowboy making the eight second buzzer on him, (his matchup with Lane was for publicity only, not official competition) he was the 1987 World Champion Bucking Bull. He was brought out of retirement the next year for the Lane Frost match-ups.
Kish still marvels at the complexity of Red Rock’s ability. Not only was he strong, but he was smart and fast. “He defied everything,” he said. “He was a very unique animal.” The bull died in 1994.
Other inductees into the Hall of Fame include riding event cowboy Joe Ruda, one of the most prominent bareback riders in the Columbia River Circuit, who won the circuit title five times in the 1980s. He won the St. Paul Rodeo in 1981 and in 1983.
Frank and Rita Foltz, of Woodburn, Ore., will be inducted into the Hall in the category of general membership. Active members of the St. Paul Rodeo Association since the mid 1980s, they were involved first in ushering and selling tickets, and have been on the queen and court committee, and helped with the grounds, hospitality, art show, and special events.
Shirley Ernst joins the Hall in the category of rodeo notables. The St. Paul woman’s father Maurice Smith, was one of the rodeo’s founders, and she was rodeo princess in 1943 and queen in 1944. She and her husband Jim had a hamburger stand at the rodeo in the late 60s and 70s, and their stand became the parish’s chicken barbecue stand that is still used today. She and Jim chaired the chicken barbecue stand for ten years.
In the timed event category, steer wrestler Trevor Knowles will be inducted. The Mt. Vernon, Ore. man has qualified for thirteen consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, and has won countless steer wrestling and all-around titles on the west coast, including rodeos in Red Bluff, Redding and Salinas, Calif., Ellensburg, Walla Walla and Omak, Washington, and Hermiston, Sisters, Canby, and Central Point, Ore.
The St. Paul Rodeo Hall of Fame induction will be held June 29 at the rodeo grounds, beginning at 5 pm. A barbecue steak dinner is served, with libations and socializing prior to the meal. Artists will be on hand for a “quick draw”, and an auction benefitting the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund is held following the meal. Tickets are $32 and must be purchased prior to the event; they cannot be purchased at the door. Tickets are on sale at StPaulRodeo.com. For more information, visit the website or call 503.633.2011.