Santa Maria Elks Rodeo: United We Stand

The Santa Maria Elks rodeo is back on track.

After two years of Covid-related disruption, the 79th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade return to their regular late-Spring spot on the calendar, running four days from June 2-5.

“It’s nice to be back to our normal routine,” said Elks Recreation President Peter Sterling. “We missed a year (2020) because of the pandemic, then we had to move last year’s rodeo to September. The September rodeo is just what the community needed at the time but it did create a short turnaround to get this year’s rodeo together. We’re happy it all worked out. It’s nice to be able to pull it all together.”

“Our theme this year is ‘United We Stand,’” said Tina Tonascia, the Chief Operations Officer of Elks Recreation.

“As a country, everybody had to stand together to survive the last two years,” she added. “We’re just proud of the way everyone here banded together to put on the rodeo last year and this year. ‘United We Stand’ shows the amazing things we can do together as a community.”

“I’m happy the rodeo is back in June,” said Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino. “It’s a real family event and it brings the community together. The Elks Rodeo is more than just riding and roping. There’s something for everyone. You can feel the electricity in the air. It’s the event of the year in Santa Maria.”

Pre-Rodeo fundraising events began in the middle of February when this year’s three Elks Rodeo Queen candidates began their fundraising campaigns.

One of the candidates – Rylie Halsell, Ashley Palin, or Primavera Rosales – will be crowned queen during the rodeo’s second night, Friday, June 3.

Each performance has its own theme; Thursday, June 2 is ‘Go Gold’ night where Elks Rec hosts 25 Golden Circle of Champions children and their families; Friday, June 3 is dedicated to all first responders; Saturday, June 4 is traditional ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink’ night which highlights the battle against breast Cancer; Sunday, June 5 is Military Appreciation Day.

The annual Elks Rodeo Parade returns Saturday morning with floats, school bands, community groups, local dignitaries, and more marching down Broadway from  Mill Street down to Enos.

Another Elks Rodeo tradition returns with each of the four performances dedicated to a local person who has been a major rodeo supporter – Thursday will be Randy Shepherd; Friday is longtime local broadcaster Dave Alley; Saturday the Elks honor Teresa “Toot” Rivas; and Sunday award-winning arena dirt curator Joey “Joe Dirt” Silva.

There are pre-rodeo concerts set for the Midway Stage each day and post-rodeo concerts and/or dances each day as well.

Camp Buckaroo for kids and the Western Marketplace open each day two hours before each rodeo performance

Thursday and Friday night’s performances kick off at 7 p.m. with Saturday’s beginning at 6 p.m. and championship Sunday starting at 2 p.m.

“The cowboys and cowgirls love coming to Santa Maria so we’ll have another strong lineup of competitors,” said Tonascia. “The Rosser family will once again provide the bucking bulls and broncos and their Flying U Fling Cowboys will cap off each performance, Bob Tallman, Wayne Brooks, and Anthony Lucia return as our announcers, rodeo clown Matt Merritt and trick rider Madison MacDonald return with exciting new elements to their acts.”

Rodeo performances can be found online and on TV. The Cowboy Channel will live-stream on its Ap and air the entire rodeo on tape delay on their Cowboy Channel while will stream highlights.

“It’s taken a lot of creativity to get us back to this point,” said Sterling. “Having to cancel 2019 put a huge hole in our fundraising efforts.

“The biggest help was the addition of the ‘Halloween Haunted House Adventure’ and ‘Christmas in the Country.’ They helped us bridge the gap until we could get our September rodeo up and running. They turned out to be more successful than we imagined.”

“And the community rallied around us,” said Tonascia. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of the community and the countless hours put in by our small army of volunteers but that’s what Santa Marians do – when the going gets tough, we stand together.”

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