If you haven’t had the opportunity to participate and volunteer for your local rodeo, you are truly missing out. Between the rodeo action, comradery, and overall “family” feel of a rodeo committee, it’s easy to get sucked in. Next thing you know, you’ve been volunteering for 30 years and you’re not sure where the time went. That’s exactly what happened to our friend, Joe Drouin, from Kitsap County Fair & Rodeo. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with him about his time spent with the rodeo and serving on the committee and it’s nothing short of amazing, I hope you enjoy!
CLN: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your involvement with the Kitsap County Fair & Rodeo?
Joe: I have lived in Bremerton my entire life and have been on the committee for over 30 years. I started out as just a volunteer, then was asked to be the Director in 1998. Last year was my last year as the Rodeo Director.
CLN: What did your start with the Kitsap County Fair & Rodeo look like?
Joe: Honestly, a friend just told me I should join this rodeo committee and I never looked back. I kind of hung around with the rodeo crowd but was never into it until I joined the committee. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
CLN: People who volunteer/work for rodeos can’t just do it because it’s something to do, they have to do it because they love it. What do you love about what you do?
Joe: Rodeo is simple, true and honest work. Bremerton is a Navy town so rodeo is a bit of an oddity in our town, it feels good to be able to provide a show that is unlike something most people have ever seen.
CLN: What is something you want people to know about the Kitsap County Fair & Rodeo?
Joe: The Kitsap County Fair & Rodeo has been going on continuously for several years. I want people to know that it’s something you can bring the whole family to, it’s down to earth and laidback. I guess you could say that it’s just good, wholesome fun with lots of action thrown into the mix. Our goal is to provide a great show for the community and our fans.
CLN: What’s something you’re the proudest of?
Joe: Our hospitality is really the highlight of what we have been able to get a good name for. The contestants really like being able to stay the night and get fed a home cooked meal for breakfast and dinner. My wife worked the hospitality tent and always made sure to keep it open until after the perf because that’s when all the cowboys eat. Sometimes that wouldn’t even be until after 9pm.
We also added a local barrel racing to our list of events and this gave the community an opportunity to get excited again. They really enjoy being able to cheer for a home town contestant.
CLN: What’s your favorite part of the whole production? For example, mine is always five minutes before the performance starts. The tractor is raking the arena, the announcer is playing his hype music to get the crowd going, the horses are getting loaded and the air is just magnetic.
Joe: For me, it isn’t a single moment, but a series of moments. For me it’s the preparation of the rodeo arena that starts on the first of August. Our arena isn’t permanent so it gets taken down when we are done with our event. It also means that we have to put it up and get it ready for our event as well. Normally, it is a derby car track and the ground is rock hard. The first step is working the dirt to get it where we want it. Then we set up the arena, bring the panels in and set up the stock pens. After that, I enjoy sitting back and knowing that we are ready.
CLN: How do you feel about the future of rodeo and the western industry as a whole?
Joe: I retired from the military and I’ve learned you have to be flexible and be willing to roll with the times. In rodeo, we have to be able to grow and learn, in order to keep it[rodeo] alive and going strong. As rodeo committees, we have to keep our chins up and make it happen no matter what else comes our way. To me, doesn’t matter what contestants come or what’s going on around us, it comes down to putting on a good show and putting in good try like they did in the old days.
I just want to take a minute to thank Joe for his time and giving us his perspective, not only on his home town rodeo but rodeo as a whole. It’s important to talk to those around us, you never know what you might learn. As far as attending the Kitsap County & Rodeo, y’all need to do that if you are in or around Bremerton! This is one of the largest rodeos in the area and based on the conversation you just enjoyed above, it’s one you won’t want to miss. Make sure to check them out on Facebook and check out their website for more information on their upcoming rodeo, August 21st-25th.
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