Orick. The settlement past the elk and the schoolhouse. Land of tall trees and unrivaled ocean shores. Blink your eyes and you’re past it. Most of the year Orick is an insulated community, a hardscrabble town dealt a raw deal in terms of economic opportunity.
Orick. The rodeo. This town’s premiere weekend put on by many hard-working natives, like Rodeo Secretary Kimberly Frick, who grew up working at its BBQ. Along with pulling together an all-volunteer staff to produce this colossal local event, Frick believes the Rodeo Committee’s biggest accomplishment is the family friendly atmosphere Orick has cultivated for more than 30 years. “People drive from as far away as Smith River to see their kid ride a sheep,” says Frick.
It is hilarious to watch a (helmeted) 5-year-old burst out of the shoot astride a sheep, and topple over onto the ground. And when a tyke holds on for a few seconds, it’s glorious. These kids are brave, raising their fists in the air, even if there are tears in their eyes. As the children get bigger, so do their steeds, as calf and steer riding follow and the excitement builds, the crowd cheering on the promising cowpokes -- local and visitor alike.
Poised beyond their years, in events like the bi-wrangle, older girls begin by breaking their horses into a run, poetically slowing just enough to circle around two poles before hightailing it back to beat the clock. These girls of all ages with increasing skill and confidence are every horse-girl’s dream come true. The lucky youngsters are not only being reared to handle horses, but to become competent, confident human beings with a heritage under their belt.
Tradition was everywhere, from the auctioneer who handled the selling off of critters that kids caught in the Animal Scramble, his voice boisterous, hardworking and kind, to the handsome cowboys and moon-eyed girls hanging on the fence railings. A line of horses simply walking shoulder to shoulder evoked the inherent beauty of the West, just as breathtaking as The Cowgirl Outlaws, 10 majestic women grandly turning stunning horses bejeweled with purple sparkles on their hindquarters, in serpentine patterns, weaving in and out, cutting it close, keeping us on the edge of our seats with the hint of danger that adds to the allure of rodeo.
When my son was 6 he hid when the roped calves lay in submission. Now, we watched wide-eyed as the released animals got up and quickly scampered off, making way for the bronco and bull riding, the most remarkable and exhilarating of all. (Who would ride a bull, anyway?) The first cowboy found himself under 2,000 pounds of bull, impressing Lonnie, who assured me he had never seen anyone break a rib before.
Orick. A great place for a rodeo.