PORTLAND, Ore. — Two Oregon women are disputing ownership of an 83-year-old costume from the state's biggest rodeo, and the fight is headed to the state Supreme Court.
The get-up worn by Pendleton Round-Up rodeo queen Lois McIntyre in 1930 features a divided, fringed leather skirt with a vest worn over a long-sleeve satin blouse.
The costume, once on display at the rodeo's hall of fame, is a style revived in recent decades by the rodeo's princesses and queens, The Oregonian newspaper (http://bit.ly/ZpKARw) reported Wednesday.
The lawsuit over the outfit involves two women with close ties to the century-old western extravaganza that draws an estimated 50,000 people to the small northeast Oregon town for a celebration that includes a four-day rodeo, parades and concert.
The lawsuit was filed by Joan Rice, a daughter-in-law of McIntyre who believes the costume is worth $25,000.
"I'm doing what I think is right, and I'm doing it the right way," Rice said. "It's been a long road, believe me."
Defendant Mary Rabb has the outfit. She was the 1968 Pendleton Round-Up queen.
"I'm not going to add any fuel to their fire," Rabb told The Oregonian. "My comments are not printable."
Rice said her husband inherited the outfit in 1964, when McIntyre died, and the couple agreed to display it in the hall of fame, asking Rabb's grandmother to take it there.
Rabb said she believes the Rices never had possession and that McIntyre gave it to her grandmother, who in turn lent it to the hall of fame.
Rice's husband died in 1972.
In 2000, court documents said, Rabb retrieved the costume.
Seven years later, the papers said, Joan Rice learned the outfit was gone.
After suing to regain possession, Rice lost in trial court in Wallowa County and again on appeal. She lost again in August when the state Court of Appeals ruled that her lawsuit wasn't brought within the six-year time limit prescribed under state law.
"It makes a mockery of the law to say to Joan Rice, before you ever knew your outfit had been taken, you lost your right to get it back," said her attorney, Cody Hoesly. "That doesn't make any sense."
The state Supreme Court is set to hear the case in September, two days after this year's rodeo ends. A decision may take six months to a year, Hoesly said.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com