"July 15-17,2004 Rodeo Marks 39th Season"

The Dalles, Oregon, article from The Dalles Chronicle newspaper

Verne Whitesel will lead parade Saturday

"When the 2004 Fort Dalles Days parade arrives in The Dalles this Saturday, local resident Verne Whitesel will be leading the way as this grand marshal.  Whitesel was one of the original organizers of the rodeo, which celebrates its 39th season with activities beginning Thursday."

Vern Whitesel was one of the initial organizers of the Fort Dalles Rodeo.  His career took him all over the United States ... His daughter and grand-daughter went on to become rodeo royalty.  This year the honors came full circle, as Whitesel was named grand marshal of the 2004 rodeo parade...".  Whitesel also has the second ticket ever sold to the first rodeo in 1965.

Queen Erin continues her family's Tradition

"In 1972 Barbara Whitesel served as the Fort Dalles Rodeo Queen.  She's been talking about it ever since."

"I love hearing stories about the great times they had at the rodeos and how wonderful it felt to compete in such a magnificent sport," says her daughter, Erin Weedman.  She is now enjoying her own reign as the 2004 Fort Dalles Rodeo Queen.

"Whenever I go to my grandparents' house I see pictures on the wall of my mom in her wonderful bright yellow outfit and a crown that says "Fort Dalles Rodeo," Erin said.  "hearing my mom talk fondly abut the Fort Dalles Rodeo and how much she enjoyed representing the event has always made me want to do the same thing."

Whitesel was born and raised in Idaho.  After graduating from High School during World War II, he joined the Navy and was transferred into the Seabees.  He served in the Philippines for two years, and was on a battery crew that shot down a Japanese Zero.

After his honorable discharge, Whitesel landed in Hermiston Oregon, working on McNary Dam.  That led to the job at The Dalles, and eventually a position as general superintendent at Bonneville Dam supervising a staff of 2,000 people.   He and his wife Faye -- a English teacher at Chenowith Middle School for more than 30 years -- built a home on Chenowith Road in 1980, a place where they could raise hay and board a few horses.

His descendants have also been active in the rodeo.  Daughter Barbara Weedman was the Ft. Dalles rodeo queen in 1972, and Miss NRA (Northwest Rodeo Association) in 1973.  And in turn, her daughter, Erin Weedman is the 2004 Ft. Dalles Rodeo queen.  "It's more or less a family affair," Whitesel said.  "The wife just goes along with it." 

It has been a while since Erin last wore a crown as the 1999 Sherman County Fair and Rodeo Queen at the age of 16.  Having finished her junior year at Oregon State University in Corvalis, where she is majoring in agricultural business management, Erin already had a busy summer as the Fort Dalles Rodeo Queen.

Her father, Guy Weedman, is no stranger to rodeo, either.  A former roughstock rider of bulls and saddle broncs, he also travels with Erin whenever he can.

Erin grew up on a Sherman county wheat and cattle ranch, where she lives with her parents and brothers Jared.  

Her resume is full of school and community involvement, from 4-H president in three clubs to membership in the Sherman county Commission on Children and Families.  Her love of agriculture, and politics, have caused to set her sights on becoming the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States.  "I love every aspect of farming and ranching, so if I do not make it to the big top I will indeed help some people along the way and hopefully live close to the Columbia Basin," she said.

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