The dust was flying in Stonyford over the weekend, as the 78th annual Stonyford Rodeo made its return after COVID-19 halted the event’s 76-year consecutive run in 2020.
Roy Stewart, Stonyford Rodeo media relations personnel, said the rodeo kicked off Friday night with balmy weather, a light wind and about 400 people in attendance.
“Friday rodeo has not caught on, yet,” said Stewart. “This being only the second year.”
By Saturday, however, the stands were full, said Stewart, with more than 2,000 people coming out to catch a glimpse of the action. Over the course of the weekend, the rodeo featured several Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events including steer wrestling, bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing.
Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Breakaway Roping was also added to this year’s lineup – a first for the rodeo, according to Stewart.
While Stewart said there were no injuries over the course of the weekend, riders narrowly avoided serious injuries several times, including early on Friday night.
“The first rider, Mitchell Parham, who is right-handed got bucked off on the left side of the horse and got his hand stuck in the rigging,” said Stewart. “He was pulled around the arena hanging from the horse until the pickup men could stop the horse and get him untangled.”
Parham was not injured in the incident.
Four girls also competed for rodeo queen Friday night and Michaela Decker, from Anderson, was crowned queen. Gracelyn Hayes, from Gerber, was selected as runner-up.
The other two contestants were Jillian Edwards, from Williams, and Aubrianna Keeler, from Stonyford.
Saturday’s rodeo festivities began with the annual breakfast at the Stonyford Fire Hall, hosted by the local Grange, followed by the parade from Indian Valley Elementary. The parade made its way through town before ending at the rodeo grounds.
“It lasted about 40 minutes and included our queen contestants, Glenn and Colusa counties Sheriff’s Posses, several old cars and trucks and the group known as the Corkhill Ranch Wild Bunch,” said Stewart. “The group comes from different cities and states and has been coming to this parade for 20-plus years.”
Rodeo events started up again early Saturday afternoon and included amateur novice bull riding in addition to several of the events featured on Friday.
“There were several near injuries in the bucking and bull riding events, in which the riders were saved by the bullfighters, Eric Layton and Josh Daries, or the pickup men, Matt Twitchell and Bobby Marriott,” said Stewart.
Sunday’s rodeo began at noon and featured amateur events all day, including steer riding, team roping, breakaway roping, junior steer riding, barrel racing and a kids boot race.
“This was a family outing with three events in the arena for kids,” said Stewart. “There was also mutton bustin’ for the smaller kids.”
To wrap up the rodeo, the day ended with dog races, which Stewart said is a favorite for young and old fans alike.