On Sunday, May 26th, I asked Leah to marry me. She said yes — in front of her family and hundreds at the Spray Rodeo. Her father, Ned, caught the moment in the video above.
I’d been waiting for the right opportunity for a few months, spending my time agonizing on which ring to buy and where to pop the question. At the start of our relationship, Leah played an important role in producing my mom’s 30th wedding anniversary gift to my dad. I thought I might take her down to the beach, have a couple friends spell out the marriage proposal in driftwood, and then pop the question. The fates decided I needed to propose in a better way.
Spray it was. Attending the two-day Spray Rodeo, and camping in Shelton-Wayside, is a long-standing Olson family tradition. Leah has been every year since she was six — yes, this year was her twentieth year. Considering she’s mentioned multiple times Spray is her “favorite time of the year,” I knew it was my best chance to get her to say yes.
Sunday morning started out with dismal weather. It rained so hard we stayed in the tent until 9 am. The rain let up, a little sun poked out, and I set about chilling my nerves by chopping wood.
Proposing to Leah posed two challenges: asking for permission from her father, and sweet-talking the rodeo committee into letting me into the arena. The first was much more intimidating to me. When the clouds started to clear, and with my window of opportunity growing smaller, I knew I needed to man up. I went to chat with Ned.
“Hey Ned, can you take a walk to the truck with me?” I ask. Ned gave me a weird look, reached into his pocket, and handed me his keys. “Actually, I’d like to walk with you to have a chat,” I clarified. Ned gave me a weirder look and reluctantly said “ok….”
I pitched my request. My fears didn’t manifest themselves. Ned gave his blessing, wrapped me in a big bear hug, and proceeded to tell me that even if he said no, he’d still expect me to ask Leah. First hurdle cleared.
Convincing the powers that be to let me hijack the rodeo late on day two was dependent on a great deal of luck. Fortunately, I had luck to cash in. I managed to get the name of Joann Griffith, long-time organizer, as the person who could give me the go-ahead. After a quick search, and help from a couple friendly souls, I found her in Frank’s Pub.
I pitched my request. “Well, I always love a good love story,” Joann responded. Boom, two for two. Time for the final step: walking out into the arena, and taking the mic from the announcer…