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Julie Drescher hands over the reins of Miss Rodeo Oregon


Drescher reflects on her year representing the state, and her hometown of St. Paul, as Miss Rodeo Oregon

COURTESY: JULIE DRESCHER - St. Paul native Julie Drescher has reigned as Miss Rodeo Oregon 2015, sending her to dozens of rodeos around the country.As Miss Rodeo Oregon, Julie Drescher has traveled all over the country, visited dozens of rodeos and signed countless autographs.

Though she’s officially been a representative of the state, she’s most proud of the fact that she’s a representative of her hometown, St. Paul.

“I’m not just Julie; I’m Julie from St. Paul,” she said. “I never would have tried out if not for the support from St. Paul.”

As a volunteer position, Miss Rodeo Oregon has to rely on sponsors to fund her wardrobe, travel expenses and any other costs, amounting to nearly $30,000.

Drescher, 24, was a St. Paul Rodeo princess in 2011 — and a St. Paul Rodeo volunteer since before she can remember — so when she shared her Miss Rodeo Oregon dreams with her friends, family and neighbors, dozens jumped at the chance to support her.

In fact, her biggest sponsor is the St. Paul Rodeo Association.

“So I saw it as a way to give back to my town by getting the name of St. Paul out there,” she said. “I’m really prCOURTESY PHOTO: JULIE DRESCHER - Julie Drescher, Miss Rodeo Oregon 2015, waves to the crowd at a rodeo in Montana.oud of where I come from and I like to portray that (on the road).”

Drescher has represented St. Paul (and, of course, Oregon) at multiple rodeos, as far away as Florida, and even at the recent Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas.

The grueling eight-day pageant, which judges contestants in categories like horsemanship, poise and personality, ended with the crowning of Miss Rodeo Washington, but the event still awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Drescher just for participating.

That will go toward her education at Western Oregon University, where she’s pursuing a master’s degree in special education. Her education, among other things, had to be put on hold in 2015, as she was out of town nearly half the year as Miss Rodeo Oregon.

“There are not many times I could leave grad school, but everything lined up like it was meant to be,” she said.

She had quite a bit of time to prepare for her year in the spotlight: The four-day pageant and crowning is done in August 2014, in conjunction with the Canby Rodeo, even though she didn’t take the reins of the position until January.

“It gives you time to build your schedule,” Drescher explained.

By January, she was off to Colorado for her first rodeo, and visited other states like Oklahoma, California and Wyoming, in addition to many in the northwest.

She was required to attend all 15 professional rodeos in Oregon, as well, so 2015 measured up to be a year with nearly every weekend away from home.

“I figured that way I would get the most out of my year,” Drescher said.

Traveling as Miss Rodeo Oregon meant it wasn’t uncommon to see her in her crown and wardrobe walking through the airport.

“It’s excellent PR,” she said. “The questions I’d get were hilarious. I’d be asked if I have animals with me.”

Drescher was accommodated with a horse to ride if she was at an out-of-state rodeo. But locally, she’s had a buckskin gelding named Gunner for six years.

She and Gunner were often accompanied by Drescher’s father, Dan, and sometimes other family members. The support means so much, she said, especially considering that, in a family of six, the only horse lovers are she and her older sister, Jennie, who was a St. Paul Rodeo princess and Santiam Canyon Stampede queen.

“She was my biggest support,” she said of her sister. “Family is No. 1. They’ve always been there and this year has reinforced that.”

She said she’s also made some lasting friendships over the year.

“I was on my own traveling a lot, so it was important to pick good friends and cherish those friendships,” she said.

The commitment to be Miss Rodeo Oregon might sound daunting to some, but for Drescher, it’s been something she’s worked toward her entire life.

“I attribute my involvement to the St. Paul Rodeo,” she said. “From painting the bleachers to pressure washing concession stands to serving chicken, it just took off from there.”

She said this role has also prepared her for becoming an educator, since, in addition to being presented in the grand entry and signing autographs at rodeos, a lot of it has involved talking with kids about rodeo and animal welfare.

“It’s such a unique position that it molds my two passions,” she said. “I love talking with youth and through this, I’ve been allowed to blend that together with my love for rodeo. I get excited to see kids get involved because they’re the future of rodeo.”

Even though her stint as Miss Rodeo Oregon is over, she’s still being asked to speak at local schools.

“I go there to talk about positive self-image,” she said. “The title is over with, but I still want to promote positive thinking. … If I can get one girl or boy to have a positive outlook on themselves and their future, then I’ve done my job.”

Now that she’s passed the crown to the next Miss Rodeo Oregon, Katie Schrock, of Corvallis, Drescher is determined to stay active, planning to finish her master’s degree, continue to substitute teach and exploring the new sport of breakaway roping. But, most importantly, she wants to make sure she is still giving back to the community that has supported her so much this past year, which means continuing to volunteer at St. Paul Rodeo.

“The most rewarding part is — it’s hard to describe the feeling — when an elder or prominent figure in the community says how proud they are of you,” she said. “It means a lot. Being in the limelight, it’s something that not many get in life. It makes me realize how blessed I am.”

Lindsay Keefer covers Hubbard, Mount Angel and St. Paul. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1193.