When it comes to anything related to the Crooked River Roundup (CRR), one will not have to look very far to find Linda Smith involved in some way.
Smith has been the CRR Queen Coordinator and chair since 2017. She also became a member of the board within the past year. She was born and raised in Crook County and has always been in love with rodeos. She was a CRR princess while in high school and has continued the passion throughout her entire life.
“I absolutely loved the experience,” she said of her time as a CRR princess. “I have always been in love with the organization and in awe of them. I think they do a great job in the community and always have.”
Although she grew up in town on Fairview Street, Smith always loved horses.
“That was my first word — not mom or dad,” laughed Smith. “My mom said it broke her heart. When the rodeo would be in town, they came down the main gate (of the fairgrounds), which is on Fairview — so they could never hide from me that it was going on.”
Smith has volunteered for the CRR for many years, and she was asked to be on the board one year ago. She works closely with the rodeo queens, from the time they are crowned and through their reigning year as CRR Queen.
“I love those girls and I love young people — especially teenagers and young adults. It is so much fun to work with these young women and watch them grow as they go through their year as a queen and they are exposed to public speaking and being a representative for the whole community,” expressed Smith. “It is something I really have a passion for and love, as well as preserving the Western lifestyle.”
Smith’s husband, Rick, was also born and raised in Crook County.
“He has always been a cowboy, and that is why I loved him in the first place,” smiled Smith. “If you like horses, you have to like cowboys.”
The couple moved to Bend in 1974, when Rick was hired as assistant manager for the Bend Les Schwab store. She always dreamed of living out of town and having horses and cattle — a dream that she did get to realize with her husband during their life together. They moved to Madras in 1981 and then made their way back to Prineville when Rick was hired as store manager.
Although Smith loved horses and rodeos, she also loved the water and swimming. When she was a young girl, she volunteered at the Prineville pool until she was 18 years old. During that point in time, lifeguards were required to be at least 18 years of age. She went through the Red Cross program at that time and served as a lifeguard and water safety instructor until she and Rick moved to Bend. When they moved back to Prineville in 2015, she volunteered to teach swimming lessons and water aerobics and served on the Crook County Parks and Recreation board.
She also helped lobby for a new swimming pool, and even though the effort was not successful, she is a strong believer in providing swimming lessons for all young people.
“I am such a believer that we have all this water in Crook County, and kids need to learn to swim. That is another thing I have always been very passionate about.”
Additionally, Smith has served on the Crook County Fair Board for the past nine years.
"They do an amazing job, helping the community keeping the grounds looking nice for community events and the county fair--including the entertainment, vendors, and having the grounds spotlessly clean and ready to go."
Smith is also ardent about helping the local veterans, and her husband is also a veteran. She helps put on a veteran’s breakfast at the Crook County Fair every year. She likes to help people and be involved in her community, and she has also volunteered with Christmas in the Pines and the local Elks club.
Smith is also fervent about the Western way of living.
“What that means to me is reaching out to your neighbor when they are sick and lending a hand and checking on them and just being a good human being and caring about people and being kind. That is kind of the Western way, and I dearly love that,” Smith said earnestly.
Smith has one son, three granddaughters and six great-grandkids. She is devoted to her family.
She indicated that one of things she loves about her role as chairman of the rodeo queen program is being able to stay close to them and staying in contact long after they fulfill their year as rodeo queen.
“I still am in contact and am invited to the weddings, (get called) grandma or second mom, and some of those kids call me their rodeo mom.”
She has also served as coordinator for the peewee rodeo queens for the Central Oregon Peewee Rodeo Association. She indicated that she will often include time between the CRR queen and the Peewee rodeo queen, so the younger girl can benefit from the learning curve by spending time with the CRR queen.
Smith stated that the time she has spent as the chair for the CRR queens has been very rewarding. She hopes that she has helped make a difference in their lives.
“All these little queens that have come along in these years -- both peewees and CRR -- have become like family to me and more like children,” Smith concluded.