Steve and Cathy Coleman don't exactly remember when they starting opening the doors to their 1,000-acre ranch in Molalla, Ore., to visiting cowboys.
The cowboys are just glad they did.
The roster of contestants who have taken in the atmosphere by relaxing, swimming or enjoying a home-cooked meal resembles the grand entry of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Drop by during the Fourth of July run or perhaps in the fall, when the Northwest becomes the epicenter of the rodeo world, and cowboys by the likes of Joe Beaver, Fred Whitfield, Steve Dollarhide, Mike Beers, Cory Melton, K.C. Jones and others can certainly be found in this picturesque spread.
And it's way better than a hotel.
"It's certainly a home away from home for me," Houston Hutto said. "It's a great place. I can't say enough good things about them. I was only able to stay one night this year. Cathy cooked a bunch of steaks. It's nice to get a meal there after going to so many McDonald's along the way. It's nice to relax, and my horses like it, too."
Steve Coleman grew up in a rodeo family in St. Paul, Ore. He remembers the hospitality given to him while he competed far from home. Now, he's giving back.
He just can't put his finger on when cowboys started dropping by.
"When I used to rodeo, our friends always just showed up," Steve said. "That hasn't changed for at least 30 years. We're just that way. We want to make everyone feel welcome. That's the way it's supposed to be."
The ranch features a barn, several pens and corrals for horses, which are certainly eager to stretch out after seemingly endless hours of travel in a small trailer. And for the cowboys, there's a place to rest, copious room for their rigs, a large pool and even an indoor arena for a practice run or two.
The Molalla ranch is located in northwestern Oregon, just 45 minutes south of Portland. St. Paul is just 25 miles to the west, making the Coleman ranch a geographic hub to get things in order before hitting both rodeos, two of the biggest during the recently completed Cowboy Christmas run.
Plus, cowboys are even more grateful given the fact that neither St. Paul nor Molalla offer horse stalls.
"At least we have a place for their horses," Cathy said. "They can rest instead of being tied to a rig."
In the early days, Beaver remembers seeing a lot more space.
"The first couple of times I stayed there, there probably weren't but three or four people there," said Beaver, a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. "Now you go there, and there are 20 or 30 rigs there. The Colemans are such good people. Good people do good things. They do good things for everyone. People should appreciate what they do. It's nice to know people care."
An intense love of the sport and the rodeo family motivates and inspires the Coleman family to continue with their brand of hospitality and good will. Steve, a former PRCA bareback rider, stayed with the sport after his rigging was put away for good. He turned his attention to working as the livestock director and chute boss at the St. Paul Rodeo and also has served on the rodeo's board of directors.
In 2003, Coleman was honored by the PRCA when he was selected as the Justin Committeeman of the Year.
Cathy routinely runs hospitality services at the St. Paul Rodeo and other local events.
All five of their children compete in rodeo two bull riding sons, Ross and Mitch; and daughters Bridgett, Kim and Christy. Bridgett, who is expecting her first child this month, is taking the year off from running barrels. Christy, a barrel racer as well, is married to ProRodeo tie-down roper Ricky Canton.
"When my kids rodeo, other people make them welcome at their house, so it works out well," Cathy said. "We want to make a home away from home for the guys. They try to hit so many rodeos over the Fourth."
Besides accommodating cowboys and cowgirls with a place to stay, the Coleman ranch also played amicable host to the Oregon state high school rodeo finals after overwhelmingly wet conditions made the city's outdoor arena unplayable.
Enter the Colemans.
"The Molalla state grounds were drenched, and we have an indoor arena," Cathy said. "In two days, we threw it together. We staggered hay bales for grandstands. A lot of people watched, and it worked out well."
As long as there is rodeo in the Northwest, cowboys and cowgirls can count on the Coleman ranch for hospitality and a place to hang their hat.
The cooking isn't all that bad, either.
"Her steak is the best, but my mom loves the scallops," Hutto said. "Everything she cooks is good, so I don't know if I have a certain favorite. You can't beat it."