The city of Folsom celebrated its 51st year hosting the Folsom Pro Rodeo this Fourth of July weekend, attracting residents from all over the Sacramento area for Old West-style festivities at the Dan Russell Arena.
The rodeo kicked off with a cattle drive through Folsom’s Historic District on Thursday evening, with festivities lasing until Sunday. The heat did not deter people from attending the sold-out event in full sun and Western dress.
The Pained Ladies Drill Team were the first performers of Sunday evening, entering the arena on horseback with patriotic costumes and American flags. They stood at attention for our National Anthem, and then showed off their skills as they maneuvered through various precision drills.
The events in the Pro Rodeo circuit are sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association. Seven events take place during these sanctioned rodeos.
After the opening festivities was the tie-down roping event, which allows a calf a head start and then the rider tries to lasso the calf. Once the calf is caught, the rider dismounts and attempts to tie any three legs together. A time of 10 seconds or less is the goal, with the fastest time winning the event.
Whenever a participant failed to complete an event or was disqualified, the announcer said things like, “The only thing this cowboy will be going home with is the applause that you’re going to give him right now. Please cheer for them and wish them better luck next time.”
The team roping event followed, a time trial with teams of two cowboys. After a steer takes a head start, one member must rope the steer around one horn, two horns or around the neck, while the other attempts to rope the steer’s hind legs.
Steer wrestling tests speed and strength. The event usually takes three to five seconds to win.
Described as the linebacker of rodeo, steer wrestlers face a formidable opponent. A horseback rider chases the steer and attempts to wrestle the steer to the ground by grabbing its horns and leveraging himself with his feet to bring down the steer.
During the event, one of the steers left the gate a little earlier than anticipated, giving the event DJ a chance to play Player’s “Baby Come Back.”
After this rough event, the rodeo was cleared for children 10 and under for a striking silver event, where $100 worth of silver dollar coins are scattered around the arena. A stampede took place as a couple hundred kids raced to find at least one of the coins.
Patriotism was at the center of the event, with about 10 young adults taking the oath to enter the U.S. Army and receiving a standing ovation. As the newest members of the U.S. Army made their way out of the arena, the festivities continued.
Local skydiver Kent Lane dropped into the arena from above 4,000 feet. While mid-air, Lane lowered a 2,000-square-foot American flag as the audience cheered.
The Marine Corps Color Guard followed, marching to the center of the arena where Jim “Digger” Williams and family sang the National Anthem.
The team bronc riding event followed, wherein a three-man team must put a saddle on an untrained horse and ride the horse around a barrel. The broncos tried to buck and kick their way away from the cowboys, making the maneuver nearly impossible at the beginning. “Wipe Out’ was a suitable song for the event. Once a rider was able to ride for a few seconds, they had to dismount without getting hurt.
Bareback riding is considered one of the most demanding events in the rodeo competition. Riders start behind a chute as they mount a horse by grasping a handhold, called a rigging, made of leather. As the horse jumps out of the chute, the cowboy puts his spurs up to the animal’s neck area until the spurs touch the rigging. The rider is judged on his spurring technique and how far he leans back and rides it out.
The saddle bronc riding event was divided into two sections as riders Bubba Maher, Wes Jones, Luke White, and Ethan Lemmons rode fierce rides that had names such as Chicken Hawk, Moonshine, Bucky’s Sam, Hill Top, Runaround Rita, One Eyed Annie, Obama Rama, Wide Country and Honor the Bar.
Considered to be the most demanding event of the rodeo, the saddle bronc riding event incurred a few injuries. The people who diverted the wild animals, which weigh up to 1,200 pounds, away from the riders to prevent injury had a busy evening, with the Folsom Fire Department on hand in case of serious injury. This event is judged by endurance and physical performance of both horse and rider.
In between saddle bronc riding sections was the delightful Kids’ Mutton Bustin’. Over a dozen kids took turns trying to ride sheep for the longest time. Mini 5- and 6-year-old cowboys and cowgirls put on helmets and tried to stay on the sheep, but many fell off as soon as the sheep left the chute.
The entertainment also featured Loomis-native Charlie “Too Tall’ West, a professional rodeo clown who has been in the business for 30 years. He was a hit with children and adults, taking center stage with Molly, his miniature horse.
Barrel racing was another timed event where riders raced around barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. Riders can be disqualified for riding in an incorrect pattern.
Bull riding is considered the most dangerous sport in rodeo. A rodeo bull can weigh 2,000 pounds or more. They are a magnificent species, agile and quite dangerous. Riders use a flat-braided rope pulled tight around the bull and across their gloved riding hand. The bull can whip a rider toward its head, where it can connect for a dangerous head butt.
In order to receive a valid score, the cowboy must hold the rope and not touch the ground or any part of the bull with his free hand or arm. The rider has to stay on the bull for eight seconds before dismounting.
The rodeo was followed by a motocross rider display that allowed the riders to showcase their stunt skills. Jesse Jolson, a professional motocross rider, is scheduled to perform nightly. A mobile ramp was included to show motocross stunts as the audience enjoyed their awe inspiring performance.
The nightly fireworks capped a great day of excitement.
If you have not attended the Folsom Pro Rodeo before, you can rely on a great, safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend event for your whole family. And that’s no bull.