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Raised to Volunteer

St. Paul woman donates time with rodeo

St. Paul resident Sue Coleman (on the right) helps with a St. Paul Rodeo activity. She volunteers in a number of ways at the St. Paul Rodeo. Coleman grew up helping at the rodeo with her parents. Photo by Hoot Creek.

St. Paul resident Sue Coleman (on the right) helps with a St. Paul Rodeo activity. She volunteers in a number of ways at the St. Paul Rodeo. Coleman grew up helping at the rodeo with her parents. Photo by Hoot Creek.

St. Paul, Ore. (June 20, 2016) – Sue Coleman believes in the power of small communities.

She sees evidence of it, every Fourth of July holiday, when she shows up to volunteer at the biggest event put on by her hometown, the St. Paul Rodeo in St. Paul, Oregon.

St. Paul, population 400, sees its town explode over the five days of the rodeo, June 30-July 4, to more than one-hundred times its usual size. The rodeo is the main attraction each night (with a matinee on July 4), but there’s also a parade, art show, barbecue cook-off, carnival, vendors, and food.

And it’s all put on by volunteers, of which Coleman, who is 45, is one.

Coleman, the daughter of Rosemarie and the late Joe Hiller, grew up in town but left to work in the agriculture industry after college. When she was in her thirties, she returned, and wanted to get involved. The rodeo came into mind. “I wanted to meet people, and thought, “the rodeo, I like it. It’s one of the biggest gigs going,” so she sent in her letter and resume.

The St. Paul Rodeo Association added her to their volunteer list, and since then, she’s added more and more tasks, all volunteer, as she works on the event.

For the first few years, she worked in the ticket office. Then in 2007, she helped with the rodeo’s annual breast cancer fundraiser, raising $48,000 for the American Cancer Society. When the rodeo discontinued the cancer fundraiser, she helped with the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund benefit, helping raise nearly $70,000 for injured cowboys.

Coleman helps with more than just the fundraiser. Like nearly all St. Paul residents, she volunteers in several different places. She puts in a two or three-hour shift with the parking (a fundraiser for the St. Paul Parochial School), and takes her turn in the chicken barbecue stand (a fundraiser for the St. Paul Catholic Church.) All the while, her husband Philip, a farmer, is working long hours to get the harvest in and put in some volunteer hours, too.

Which means their two children, Cy, who is seven, and Rita, age five, spend a lot of time at Nana and Papa’s. But they get their time with the town’s activities, too. Coleman blocks out parade time, on July 4, for the kids. “I hold parade time as family time,” she said, “so I can sit and watch and enjoy with my kiddos.” The kids also love going to the carnival, and to at least one night of rodeo.

Both of her parents volunteered with the rodeo. “My parents were avid volunteers,” she said. “That’s what we did. I was raised to volunteer.”

Coleman is proud of the work the St. Paul community does to host what is billed as the Nation’s Largest Fourth of July Rodeo. “We’re a community that comes together and puts on an awesome family event. It’s amazing how it all comes together. And I love that it’s a family event.”

Several hundred volunteers give of their time, expertise and skill to put on the St. Paul Rodeo, which is June 30-July 4. Bull riding sanctioned by the PBR is June 30 at 7:30 pm; five rodeo performances follow on July 1-4, each evening at 7:30 pm and a matinee performance on July 4. Fireworks follow each night’s show; the Fourth of July parade is at 10 am. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit StPaulRodeo.com or call the rodeo office at 800.237.5920.