STOCK SHOW HONORS HEFNERS

June 07, 2001 12:00 am
STOCK SHOW HONOREES: Dianne and Jake Hefner have a long history with the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. (The Observer/T.L. PETERSEN).
STOCK SHOW HONOREES: Dianne and Jake Hefner have a long history with the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. (The Observer/T.L. PETERSEN).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

UNION An old acquaintance sees Jake Hefner at the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show grounds and stops cold.

I thought youd be dead by now! the man exclaims.

Well, theyre putting my obituary in tomorrow, Hefner replies.

Not yet.

After 26 years in the area, all of which Jake and Dianne Hefner have spent helping out in one way or another at the livestock show, the show is honoring them by making them grand marshals of Fridays annual parade through downtown Union.

The parade starts at 2 p.m. The EOLS rodeo starts at 4 p.m. and wraps up Sunday.

Dianne Hefner ran the kitchen for years, often by herself, serving up countless burgers to volunteers and patrons. Jake served as the livestock shows president in 1992 and 1993, when the organization built its FFA barn. Their children showed animals, and son John Hefner is still active in all aspects of the show.

Its all for the kids, Jake Hefner says without hesitation, keeping things going for the kids.

The best thing is working with the kids and their animals, trying to keep them going, he says.

The size of the show has grown so that it draws youth from six Eastern Oregon counties. The highlight is the show-ending livestock sale, a tear-jerker for the young people who have grown attached to their animals and momentarily dont care about the thousands of dollars they can make.

We had about a $50,000 sale at the most then, Jake said of earlier days. Now, $250,000 is pretty small. Its getting so big its getting harder for us to get buyers.

Another old friend walks by.

Quit looking up, Ken, Hefner calls out to the man.

We dont want a rain dance, adds Ray McDaniel, the shows first vice president.

Yeah, the Livestock Show is infamous for attracting rain the second week of June, and Hefner has had to deal with that, too.

One year I had a team of horses, and we couldnt get the tractor on the track, so I took my team of horses and flowed all the water off it.

Hefner has served as superintendent of horse racing for years, along with helping out with the auction and organizing the rental of horse stalls.

This is his last year directing the pari-mutuel races, however.

Ill still be with the stock show, Jake says. Ray is gonna take over next year. He fired me.

You cant get fired here, McDaniel replies, smiling.