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Each July, the West comes alive in Salinas with the California Rodeo Salinas at the Salinas Sports Complex. The California Rodeo Salinas is the largest rodeo in California. One of the most prestigious stops on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit and part of the Wrangler Million Dollar Gold Tour, the California Rodeo (locally pronounced ro-DAY-oh) Salinas attracts more than 700 top-ranked professional cowboys and cowgirls competing for over $400,000 in prize money annually. In addition, four of California's greatest young horsewomen will compete for the title of Miss California Rodeo Salinas.
Though the California Rodeo Salinas itself takes place for only four days, surrounding events such as the Rodeo Carnival, the Kiddie Kapers Parade and Cowboy Poetry provide a week long warm-up to the main event.
An outgrowth of the Spanish ranchero days when the semi-wild herds of cattle were gathered for branding, ear-marking and castration, the word rodear is Spanish for "round-up." Inspired by the San Juan Bautista Fiesta and Rodeo, cattlemen from Salinas decided in 1908 that Monterey County should have a similar event. In 1911, the California Rodeo Salinas, initially named the Wild West Show, was born.
The California Rodeo Salinas became known throughout the country. Throughout its history, it attracted famous cinematic cowboys like Will Rogers, who became an honorary director of the event; Gene Autry, who shot scenes for one of his early films at the California Rodeo Salinas; Richard Boone, star of Have Gun Will Travel; Amanda Blake of Gunsmoke fame; and a young up-and-comer named Clint Eastwood, star of the TV series Rawhide.
Today, the California Rodeo Salinas is the largest rodeo in the state. It features three roughstock events (bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding) and three timed events (tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping), all PRCA-sanctioned. Between the events, trick riders and animal acts keep the audience entertained. In addition to these traditional events, visitors to the California Rodeo Salinas can watch bull fighting, barrel racing, the raucous Industrial Calf Dressing competition, and more.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Aerosmith will rock the Salinas Sports Complex on Friday July 10th. Tickets to this legendary concert are still available in limited quantities starting at $95 + fees.
Saturday, July 11th, is a day for parades! The Kiddie Kapers Parade kicks things off at 6:30pm in Oldtown Salinas. Tiny tots compete for the top cowboy and cowgirl who will ride at the front of the Colmo del Rodeo Parade which begins at 8pm. The Colmo del Rodeo Parade also in Oldtown Salinas features a wide range of floats, specialized cars and animals!
The "Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering" at the Steinbeck Institute of Art & Culture in Salinas shows off the artistic side of cowboy culture. It combines three of Monterey County's favorite things: cowboys, wine, and poetry. The event takes place Sunday, July 12th.
The thrills begin even before the official Rodeo kickoff with a night of Professional Bull Riding on Wednesday, July 15th. Professional bull riders compete for a $40,000 purse.
On Thursday night, wear something pink for "Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night." The California Rodeo Salinas raises money for breast cancer research, donating $1 to the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Salinas Valley Memorial Health Care Center with every paid admission.
The Rodeo Carnival, a tradition since the inception of the California Rodeo Salinas, offers everything a visitor could want in a country carnival, including thrilling rides, games of skill, and delicious fair food open July 10-19 on Sun Street in Salinas. Children can play at the Kids Corral, which has bounce houses and a petting zoo. Another fun-filled family event held during the Rodeo's Big Week is the Stick Horse Race just before the start of the Rodeo on Thursday.
To purchase tickets and for more information, call 800-771-8807 or 831-775-3100 or visit the official California Rodeo Salinas website.