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 Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California

October 12, 2005 Vol 32, No. 48 Page  A10, column 1


Erickson is CowBelle of the Year


 Siskiyou CattleWomen celebrate 50 years, by Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California

ETNA, Calif. – During a 50th anniversary celebration meeting held by the Siskiyou County CattleWomen on Sept. 24, the title of “CowBelle of the Year” was bestowed on a surprised Sharon Erickson.

 The organization held a special luncheon catered by Bob’s Ranch House at the JH Ranch up French Creek. Wagon rides for those attending were provided by teamsters, Bob Scranton and Richard McKee. And the gorgeous black Percheron enjoyed the crisp morning as he shared an aspect of yesteryear, after the ladies had parked their modern cars.

It was 50 years ago, when wives of Siskiyou County Cattlemen decided to establish their own advocacy group. By 1961, they began honoring an outstanding woman each year as the “CowBelle.”

Sharon joins more than 40 women that have given great service to the local organization. Although she considers herself “too young” to receive the honor, Sharon joined the women’s group, back in 1982, when they were still called “CowBelles.” Since then, the name has been changed to CattleWomen,” yet this ball of enthusiasm has been an advocate for beef  -- no matter what the name. She has supported a variety of activities from the Ag Awareness Day to letter writing campaigns.

“They probably have a file on me in Washington,” laughs Sharon, because of the many letters that she has written on issues important to ranchers.

No one knows just how long Sharon has worked in the barbecue beef sandwich booth at the Siskiyou Golden Fair each August. But for eight of the last nine years, she has organized the booth as chairman. This is a big fundraiser for the local CattleWomen’s association. It is an exhausting job. Preparation before the five days of the fair is just as extensive as the many hours of making and selling the popular barbecue beef sandwiches.

And friends, who happen to have run into Sharon sometime during the summer months preceding the fair, know that she is very good at talking them into helping at the booth – beguiling them by chuckling and with that bright smile claiming it is “so much fun.”

But when there hasn’t been enough volunteers, Sharon has called on her family. Even though Sharon’s sister, Julie Thackeray, lives near Portland, Julie and her four children have returned to help out. Actually, Julie’s children love visiting with Aunt Sharon, who puts them to work on the ranch.

Sharon is always helping other people. Her husband, Brad, states that “compassion is her best quality.”

So when Melanie Fowle was president of CattleWomen and decided to clean out the organization’s storage room, Sharon volunteered to help. The project was daunting, but by the time the pickup was filled to over-flowing they had laughed all the way from the basement stairs to the dump, recalls Fowle.

This CowBelle loves her three children and husband beyond description, but her first love was for horses.

Even though she was born in Los Angeles on Halloween in 1960, her father found many ways for his two daughters to experience the “country” side of living in the big city. He grew up in Ohio on a dairy farm and always wanted to return to his roots and actually began vacationing in Scott Valley in 1952.

In 1973, Sharon’s parents, Frank and Marty Schisler, moved their family to Scott Valley after Frank retired from the L.A. Police Department at age 41. So Sharon grew up riding horses, working at stables, then on ranches and shooting guns, because her policeman dad thought those were good things for his daughter to do.

Luckily for Brad, Sharon really does like working on the ranch. Raking hay is her favorite job. Brad says that she hums her favorite tunes and mentally plans out her next three month’s worth of projects while she drives the tractor. But she is also a trouper, especially when they are harvesting corn. Driving the silage truck is not Sharon’s idea of a good time. In fact, Brad knows that she hates it, but she does it anyway.

One time, while working with some of their un-cooperative cows, Brad became angry. He was yelling and throwing a fit. Sharon just up and told him that she wasn’t going to put up with it and was “out of there.”  

Brad recalls that he quickly came to his senses and found an apology very fast.

One of their first good friends was Ken Dowling, who sold Sharon a palomino mare for $200. Dipper was one of  Sharon’s all-time favorite horses.

In 1979, Sharon won Rodeo Queen for the Scott Valley Pleasure Park. In 1980, her charm and beauty brought her the Miss Scott Valley title and she then competed in the Miss Siskiyou contest coming in as Miss Congeniality.

The Siskiyou County CattleWomen believe they have been blessed to have a lady such as Sharon Erickson join and support their organization.




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