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79th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo ready to ride

Santa Maria Elks Rodeo
Cattle run out of a chute on Thursday morning at the Santa Maria Elks Event Center. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The 79th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade is all ready to kickoff Thursday night.

After the pandemic impacted operations the past two years, cancelling the event all together in 2020, and forcing it to move to Labor Day weekend in 2021, this marks the first time it's been held in its traditional place on the calendar in three years.

Elks Recreation, which puts on the show each year, said having the rodeo back in normal time frame will help increase the quality of the event.

"This year, having it back in the month that we're having it, we're going to have an excellent lineup of cowboys," said Elks Recreation president Peter Sterling. "You're going to be in for a real treat. The quality of the cowboys that we're going to have riding is just working out great. I think that's why our ticket sales are going so fast and everybody is just very excited to have rodeo back again in its normal place."

According to Elks Recreation, all indications are this year's rodeo could perhaps be the most anticipated ever.

"Our online ticket sales are very strong," said rodeo spokeswoman Johnna McGuire. "We've seen record sponsorships. All of our performances will televised live every night on The Cowboy Channel. That's never happened in our history and it just adds a whole another element to what we do and what we bring. Santa Maria is a big rodeo on the rodeo circuit."

In addition to the rodeo performance, there is additional entertainment lined up for fans of all ages.

"We have our pre-rodeo concerts and Camp Buckaroo when the gates open each night, two hours before the performance and then always crowd favorite, the Flying Cowboys to end the evening," said McGuire. "And then, let's stick in some bull riding and some bronc riding, so it's incredibly entertaining."

While the rodeo is beginning on Thursday, one popular event that annually kicks off the action, the Minetti Mini Rodeo, which brings in thousands of local third grade students, wasn't held.

Due to quick turnaround from the last rodeo, the Mini Rodeo, and a handful of other events had to be cancelled.

"We had Beard-a-Reno and our golf tournament and so forth, all that just wasn't able to happen, but I tell you what, we put all our efforts into this show, so you're in for a real treat," said Sterling.

Sterling added all of the events not held this year will return better than ever next year when the Elks Rodeo is held June 1-4, 2023.

But first things first, the 2022 edition is all set to thrill the thousands of spectators, as well as all the contestants who come out the Elks Event Center over the next four days.

"I got to come here in September for the one over Labor Day and it was amazing," said contestant Madison McDonald. "It was one of my favorite rodeos of the whole season, so when they asked me to come back for June, I was so thrilled. I always love coming down here. I get to see the coast and there's just so many awesome people. The fans were amazing. This committee goes above and beyond and the whole community gets involved. It's one of kind."

The 79th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade will take place June 2-5.

For tickets or more information, click here.

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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