Traditions new and old flew through the chutes over the weekend as the 79th annual Stonyford Rodeo logged another successful three-day competition into the books.
Roy Stewart, Stonyford Rodeo media relations personnel, said the rodeo kicked off Friday night with clear skies and warm weather during the opening ceremony.
“The leadoff performer was last year’s queen runner-up, Gracelyn Hayes,” said Stewart. “Gracelyn was dazzling in a suit of silver spangles as she circled the arena. She was then followed by 2021 Queen Michaela Decker. The 2022 queen contestants, Aubrianna Keeler and Emma Canalia rode next. Aubrianna was ceremoniously crowned queen there in the arena.”
During opening ceremonies, the 2022 Rodeo Grand Marshal and dedicatees Phil and Jacque Ray were presented and circled the arena in the Horsemen’s antique surrey. The rodeo was dedicated to Jacque Ray and her husband Phil Ray, who passed away in July 2021.
Jacque Ray was joined by her daughter Lorna Langr and her granddaughter, Gabrielle DeSmet, in the surrey during the dedication, said Stewart.
“The opening with a young lady riding in carrying Old Glory, and then continued with the invocation and the singing of our national anthem,” said Stewart.
Friday evening’s rodeo action included nine Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events with a total of 68 contestants, according to Stewart. Rodeo events included bareback riding, with four entries; steer wrestling, with seven entries; mutton bustin’, with 10 entries; ladies breakaway, with eight contestants; saddle bronc riding, with three entries; team roping, with 10 pairs of cowboys; tie down robing, with 10 contestants; barrel racing, with 12 ladies; and bull riding, with four cowboys.
“Mutton bustin’ also provided 10 children who competed for best dressed and riding lambs (aka muttons),” said Stewart.
The stars of the evening, according to Stewart, were Mexican Charro ropers Tomas Garcilazo and his 7-year-old son, Louie.
“They demonstrated exceptional roping and horseback riding skills that had the rodeo audience cheering,” said Stewart. “JJ Harrison also entertained the crowd with his constant patter throughout the rodeo and with his two performances in which he had men and women from the crowd join him in the arena. In the first, he had a man showing he could dance, and in the second, he had three women interact with him in his fat suit. Both performances had the crowd laughing and cheering.”
The bull riding on Friday provided the only two qualified rides, including Colby Demo, with 85.5 points and Ray Mayo, with 80 points. The All-Around Cowboy Chant DeForest competed in team roping and tie-down roping on Friday, according to Stewart.
“It was a safe rodeo in which the only near accident was when saddle bronc rider Davis Mardesich was thrown against a back wall fence sign,” said Stewart. “He suffered what looked to be a hard hit, but the two pick-up men kept the horse moving and Davis limped from the arena under his own steam. He nevertheless had a qualified, eight-second ride and scored 67 points.”
Rodeo festivities resumed on Saturday with a hearty breakfast at the firehouse followed by the annual Stonyford Rodeo parade.
Stewart said the first event of the day was the only non-PRCA action of the event – the Novice Bull Riding.
“There were 10 contestants, all from nearby towns,” said Stewart. “Although there were no qualified rides, several were exciting in which the rider was saved from serious injury by the three bullfighters.”
On Saturday, there were nine PRCA events, with a total of 69 contestants, in addition to the novice bull riding with 10 youngsters competing and another round of mutton bustin’.
Garcilazo and son Louie performed their great roping act on Saturday night as well, this time joined by their wife and mother who showed off her horsemanship skills and colorful dress, said Stewart.
After breakfast at the firehouse on Sunday, the rodeo action began with “Cowboy Church” in the grandstands followed by the amateur, “fun” rodeo that afternoon.
“This was called a fun rodeo because of the audience participation by kids and their mothers in a boot race and by dogs and their owners in a dog race,” said Stewart.
Amateur rodeo events on Sunday included barrel racing, team roping, mutton bustin’, open breakaway roping and junior steer riding.
“The barrel racing was split between older and younger competitors,” said Stewart. “There were 21 ladies in the older event and 13 girls in the junior barrel racing event. Team roping was split three ways: two sections with a total of 33 riders and the final race-off of the top 10 from the two sections. And, as with the other two days, the mutton bustin’ was comprised of 10 children.”
There was also a specialty act on Sunday featuring Lassen View Elementary School eighth graders Maci Cohn and Camryn Schweninger, who did a trick riding performance.
“The crowd loved them,” said Stewart.