Tradition has long and historical roots in Folsom dating back to the Gold Rush days. Folsom honors their western traditions as a tribute to the famed era, cattle ranches, and the Pony Express by hosting the Folsom Pro Rodeo every Fourth of July weekend for the past 54 years.
The 3-night event, running from July 3-5, kicked off its festivities with the annual Folsom Cattle Drive and Parade on Historic Sutter Street on July 2. The Dan Russell Rodeo Arena, where the rodeo is held every year, was packed to capacity each night.
The rodeo featured a variety of competitive events including individual and team roping. Steer and calf roping showcased the riding, roping, and wrestling skills of the competitive cowboys. These were timed events and in some cases the animals did what they know to do best: run.
Brahma bull riding and bareback bronc riding showcased massive animals that thrilled the audience. Riders attempted to ride them for as long as possible and some cowboys hobbled off the rodeo.
One of the main attractions of the rodeo is the Painted Ladies Rodeo Performers, who have been riding their magnificently well trained horses for over 20 years. The performers delighted the audience and served as special inspiration for all the little girls on hand.
Another popular event was Mutton Bustin’ where children five to six years old tried to ride sheep and hung on for dear life as the sheep took off as soon when the gate to the rodeo was open. Little cowboys and cowgirls competed to see who could ride the longest.
After the rodeo each night, guests were treated to a spectacular fireworks display that was seen throughout the city of Folsom.
Fan reaction was quite enthusiastic.
City slickers like Joanne March, who has lived in Sacramento for 28 years, attended the rodeo for the first time. “I wanted to attend and told my husband about this three moths ago. For my birthday–July 4–he bought tickets as part of my birthday present. My response? Holy cow!” said March.
“I was so happy to finally attend and my family will probably try to make this a tradition,” continued a jovial March.“What better way to celebrate our country’s birthday? Wait a minute, what better way to celebrate my birthday? I also loved the fireworks display. It was the biggest I’ve seen in years.”
Special events also included a July 3 Make-A-Wish Foundation night honoring a Sacramento girl fighting cancer. Alyssa Kalb is a six year old girl who has been battling a brain tumor. The little girl’s wish was fulfilled when she and her family were given a Disney Cruise Ship courtesy of Wells Fargo and the Make-A-Wish foundation.
During the cattle drive as well as during the rodeo a short remembrance was held in honor of Jim “Digger” Williams. Besides being a Folsom Chamber Ambassador, Williams was a long time Folsom resident and member of the rodeo community. He was always present at Folsom events and those who knew him grieve his passing.
July 4th honored military and veterans with Army swearing-in of new recruits, and all 3 nights featured live music by the Dave Russell Band at the Mike’s Golden Spike Saloon. The band performed country favorites as well as a few Johnny Cash songs honoring local Folsom Prison.
The rodeo is presented each year by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce. This event creates an approximate direct injection of nearly $1.5 million to the local economy and is the largest multiple day event in the city.