The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that professional cowboy Dennis Foley of the Eugene Pro Rodeo has accepted its invitation to serve as Grand Marshal of the 2014 Rhododendron Festival Parade on Sunday, May 18, beginning at noon.
In keeping with this year's theme "Not our First Rhody-O", representatives from the Eugene Pro Rodeo will accompany Dennis and his renowned mule "Bailiff" as they lead close to 100 float and marching band entries in the State's second longest running floral parade.
As a member of the Oregon Horse Center's "Hall of Fame," Dennis and Bailiff are nationally recognized for their trail course exhibitions where they demonstrate that "the ultimate western cowboy is when a rider and their mount become one mind with grace and elegance." This renowned western duo are the first and currently only mule teem to be inducted in to the OHC Hall of Fame.
Born into a family tradition steeped in cattle ranching and agriculture, Dennis began working with horses and cattle at a young age in Bisbee, Arizona and continued to focus on horsemanship through the 1980s when he had a chance to go on a pack trip in the Bear Tooth Wilderness of Montana. The outfitter and packer used mules to pack and ride. Dennis' first mule riding experience was on a steed named “Babe.” Babe took him places on those high mountain trails that made him a true believer in the temperament and behavior of this type of animal.
Dennis's wilderness trips since then have been with mules. His wife Jonni, and accomplished equestrian, started riding mules six years ago. Together, they have competed in the Oregon Horse Center's “Mountain Trail National Championship” each November since its inception in 2004.
"We are very excited to have Dennis and representatives of the Eugene Pro Rodeo be a part of our parade," says Cal Applebee, Executive Director for the Chamber. "They'll also be riding in our kids' parade on Saturday, and folks will be able to have their picture taken with a buckboard and team of miniature horses immediately following at the Kiwanis Kids Games."
For more information about this year's Rhododendron Festival, the Rhody Court Showcase, and parade entries forms, visit the Chamber's website atwww.florencechamber.com.
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