In the community

Vale grand marshal honor goes to Vale farmers, rodeo supporters

VALE – In his 78 years, Jerry Wilcox has learned some valuable life lessons.

“I try to take the good with the bad. We have to be adaptable. That’s probably the biggest thing,” said Wilcox.

Wilcox, a Willowcreek farmer who graduated from Vale High School in 1964, and his wife Sylvia, were recently selected to be the grand marshals of the 2024 Vale 4th of July, which will be held July 3-6.

 “I feel honored. There are quite a number of people who received this honor and I’m glad to be included in that group,” he said.

Sylvia Wilcox, who grew up in Grant County, said the grand marshal selection was a “nice surprise.”

“Jerry and I feel very honored,” said Sylvia Wilcox.

After high school, Jerry Wilcox attended college at what was then called Boise Junior College (later Boise State University) and then Oregon State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in range management. 

Wilcox then went to work for the Bureau of Land Management. Except for a few years in the early 1970, Wilcox worked his whole career at the local BLM office. He retired in 1984. 

“I had a choice to leave the BLM on an early out. I then started farming full time in 1984,” he said.

Now his son, Andy, farms Wilcox’s property.

“His farm is right next to us,” said Wilcox.

Wilcox said his family emerged from Oklahoma in the mid-1930s.

He said his family consisted of seven boys and one girl and his mother, “had the patience of Job.”

Besides farming, Jerry and Sylvia Wilcox operate Wilcox Horse & Buggy. The Wilcox’s horse-pulled, vintage buggy is often a familiar sight in special events in Vale, especially during the holidays.

The Wilcoxes often travel across the Northwest with the buggy and participate in special, historical reenactments. Recently, the Wilcox’s traveled to Jamestown, North Dakota, to participate in a wagon train historical event. Wilcox, though, said the business is Sylvia’s.

“I just go along for the ride,” he joked.

Wilcox said he is most proud of his family – his wife and his daughter Amy and his son.

Sylvia said she came to Malheur County to go to school at Treasure Valley Community College.

“After college I traveled around a bit and then came back to Ontario to take care of my grandparents, and this is where I stayed,” said Sylvia Wilcox.

Sylvia Wilcox said the grand marshal selection just isn’t about her and Jerry but is “for the whole Wilcox family.”

Sylvia, whose maiden name was Lissman, said her family also lived and farmed in the Treasure Valley for many years. 

Breakfast, anyone? Event will fete honorees

Don’t miss a chance to eat a hearty breakfast on the Fourth of July and honor the grand marshals of Vale’s big rodeo.

Jerry and Sylvia Wilcox are the honorees for this year’s Vale 4th of July Rodeo. 

In the past, the marshals have been honored at a barbecue in Wadleigh Park. This year, in a new twist on the tradition, organizers have scheduled the grand marshal ceremony as a breakfast, slated to coincide with the Lions Breakfast in Vale’s city park on July 4.

The Lions feed runs from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Grand Marshal Breakfast serving line will begin at 9:30 a.m., with a ceremony for the Wilcoxes at 10 a.m.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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