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Molalla Buckeroo Association president Tim Anderson sits down for a preview of this year's events as preparation begins to wrap up

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS  - Tim Anderson is entering his fourth year as president of the Molalla Buckeroo Association, and he's gearing up to make this year's festitivies the best yet under his leadership.

Tim Anderson is constantly searching for ways to improve the Molalla Buckeroo for fans and athletes alike.

Whether they're small tweaks like adding in an ATM near the ticket booths and increasing the number of porta potty restroom stations or big changes like widening the entryway and adding more ticket lanes to drastically speed up the entry process, Anderson wants the Buckeroo experience to be a convenient and pleasant one for all.

"Every year we've tried to make some improvements, and this year is no different," he said.

This is Anderson's fourth year as President of the Molalla Buckeroo Association, and he's been hard at work preparing for Molalla's biggest event of the year.

But just like most other outdoor businesses and activities in the Pacific Northwest, the MBA has had to deal with some frustrating delays due to an exceptionally wet spring season.

"It's put us way, way behind," Anderson said. "Usually it's at this time (June 20) when you would come down here around four days before our first event, we would have banners and pennants and the arena would be different, everything would be looking like 'Oh, there's going to be something here,' but we've had to wait so much on any of the outside ground stuff, any of the painting … then we just had that rain last week so there's still a big mud puddle in the arena."

And since the weather has been nearly perfect for the last week or so, Anderson and the rest of his workers have been in go-mode to prep the grounds and the arena for the opening night kickoff party and the Challenge of Champions bullfighting event on the evening of Saturday, June 24.

"People always ask me if you're ready for the Fourth of July, and I say 'No, but it's coming anyways,'" Anderson said. "The cowboys are coming, the stock is coming, and the corn dogs are going to be here."

Anderson also pointed out the contracting of a new carnival company, Rainier Amusements, a Portland-based traveling amusement park, and he said he's hoping for some added carnival events and rides from them.

"They're real nice, all of the equipment is in good shape … we're hoping we have good crowds for the carnival because that's how you get them to bring more stuff the next year," he said. "So we're excited to get them here."

Anderson also noted the departure of John Harrison as the specialty act from the last two years, who will be replaced by Mark Swingler, who has been nominated the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's Clown of the Year three times as well as the Top Five Coors Barrelman nine times. Swingler's signature act is perhaps his firetruck show, a sneak pick of which can be seen on his website at markswingler.com.

Anderson said Harrison put him in touch with Swingler, and Anderson said he's very high-energy and family friendly.

"It's kind of like watching a Disney movie," as Anderson put it. "His comedy isn't aimed at the adult end, there's mixtures … you've got some stuff the kids won't get but the parents will think is funny, and some stuff the kids like; he's really good and really family-oriented."

Coming back again this year is the coveted donkey race that always ensues in hilarity as people try painstakingly to lead a donkey down to one end of the arena and back, all while another person rides on its back – a feat that may sound easy, but always proves to be a challenge.

"We're trying to bring back some of that crowd-oriented participation stuff, including the nickel scramble for the kids again," Anderson said.

Anderson said people can expect a few additions to the fireworks displays this year while the wall of fire returns for the grand finale. He also noted the continuation of the tribute to veterans at the start of the rodeo; a veteran rides in the back of a pickup truck with an American flag to officially start the rodeo.

"That means a lot to me, I come from a very long military family," Anderson said, also a veteran himself. "It's not new, something big and fancy, but it's something I'm very proud of here."

Anderson also said they've now changed their military discount policy: every performance of the Buckeroo, veterans get in for free with a valid identification.

Anderson noted that since he's been president of the MBA, the organization has tried to "reinvent" itself.

"Since I've been president, we've really tried to reinvent ourselves as far as being family-friendly, community-orientated," Anderson said. "We're doing our sponsorship in-house now, we don't hire an outside company, and we've brought in a lot more local sponsors."

"I wanted it to get back to where people felt comfortable bringing their families," he said.

And while Anderson said it's no secret that much of the money made from the Buckeroo throughout the week come from alcohol sales, the MBA has added security this year, which will allow for another significant change.

"We've got the license so that if you're here with your wife and kids and you want to have a drink, you don't have to go stand in the hard alcohol area by yourself and leave your family for half an hour," Anderson said. "You can go and get your drink, come back, sit down with your family and enjoy yourself without that stigma of 'I've got to go over here to have a drink,' and that's been a big deal, so we've added security for that."

And though there will be added security, Anderson said that there were no incidents involving alcohol last year.

While things are wrapping up, Anderson said perhaps the most challenging aspect of the preparation other than dealing with wet weather is having the number of volunteers needed.

"Just getting the manpower, sometimes it's hard because when you do have the volunteers, this year especially, we'll have eight people down here and then it's pouring down rain," Anderson said.

"And this year it's been hard because nobody has really had that mindset of 'Oh, it's almost here,' because usually we have nice weather a little bit before we get here, and when that weather turns nice is usually when the people that aren't part of us all year-round start thinking 'Oh man, I'd better call the rodeo and see if they need help,'" he said.

Those that wish to volunteer, even just for one night before, during, or after the show, can visit the Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo volunteers {obj:24326 page for more information.

The pro purse for this year's rodeo comes in at $8,000 added per event, according to Anderson. He said that amount has been the same for a number of years, but eventually he'd like to increase it.

Anderson also said cowboys will be able to utilize the shuttle helicopter to get to or from the St. Paul Rodeo happening concurrently, a service that had to be used last year as well due to some traffic issues despite the two rodeos making an effort to stagger their events.

"We're just super excited, Molalla is the Buckeroo, or the Buckeroo is Molalla; you go anywhere and you say you're from Molalla, you get 'Oh, the Buckeroo!'" Anderson said. "That's something we're proud of."


Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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