Stonyford Rodeo captured in print


Seventy-five years will be the age of the Stonyford Rodeo on its next outing, May 5 and 6, 2018. To honor this event, Roy Stewart has written a history of the Stony Creek Horsemen’s Association and their rodeos and parades. Stewart used the 34+ years of Stonyford and Stony Creek Horsemen’s history that Joyce Bond, his co-author, amassed and stored in scrapbooks for each decade from 1939 through the 1993 50th Anniversary. That is in addition to the rodeo history preserved in her book Back in Time, Stonyford Community History that she co-authored with Stonyford legends Lawrence “Sharky” Moore and his sister, Beulah Moore Vanlandingham.

Stewart filled in Joyce’s history with a flowing narrative descriptive text that takes the story from its beginning, with the 1939 Gay Nineties Parade, and the rodeos that began at the Dick Moore Ranch (Sharky’s father), in 1943. The book describes the two fires that nearly wiped them out. The first was in 1950, where all of their records were destroyed, and the second a decade later, in July 1960. This one burned down all of the rodeo ground structures, except for a corral or two. From this disheartening event, in which they nearly threw in the towel, they rose again to create a professional rodeo that is on a par with those in much larger cities. (Stonyford has a 2010 Census population of 149, and draws human resources from a total population of 700-800 people who live in nearby communities and ranches.)

The book describes the rebuilding of the grounds in which donated labor rebuilt the structures that were lost in the fire: an elevated announcing stand, two grandstands, concession stands, corrals, and chutes and gates for both the bucking stock and the timed events. All this was done in time to stage a rodeo in 1961 that “shattered previous attendance marks.”

From 1961 through 2017, building projects again using volunteer labor occurred nearly every year. The most complex of these projects occurred in 1985-’86, when they tore down the old, rotting grandstands and rebuilt the stands as they are today. This effort required piling huge amounts of dirt as a foundation for the grandstands. The dirt had to be dug from one area on the property and moved to another location. Then a concrete-block wall had to be erected to outline the arena and keep the dirt contained. Then, many yards of concrete had to be spread to provide walkways and flooring for the reserved seating, and also to provide a two-inch-thick blanket to cover the dirt that underpinned the grandstand seating. This effort required the whole town, and most of the men pitched in to do the heavy lifting and their ladies volunteered food to keep their men well fed.

Seven years later, another massive project was tearing down the wooden bucking-chute gates and replacing with them metal ones. This project was essentially done in a single weekend, just before the 50th Anniversary in 1993. The book provides three collages of color photographs that attest to the difficulty of the task and the heavy lifting needed to make it come together. This is just a sampling of the types of work that were accomplished over the years. Read the book to learn about the other projects.

Many people, especially those who participated in bygone rodeos, may find the most enduring history to be the 64 years of rodeo programs transcribed from the original documents into the book’s Chapter Four. Over these 64 years, 100 rodeos were mounted—two each year since 1980. The program’s information on officers and directors, committees, dedicatees, and rodeo royalty are included. Also provided are listings of the events and contestants for 89 of these rodeos. Since 1976, the events-and-contestants data were not embedded in the program, but listed separately in individual papers called “day sheets.” The authors were unable to locate day sheets for the following rodeos: Sunday, 1980; Saturday and Sunday, 1982 and 1983; Saturday, 1984, Sunday, 1985; and Saturday and Sunday 1991 and 1996. If any readers may have squirreled-away one or more of these needed day sheets, please contact Roy Stewart at It is not too late to get the information included in the book. Copies of the book are currently being reviewed for typographical and content accuracy. The book will go to press in mid-January and be available in mid-February, or sooner.

Another chapter in the book provides photographs and newspaper clippings that tell a history-in-pictures of the Gay Nineties parades that occurred between 1939 and 1957, and the revived Stonyford Rodeo parades that were restarted in 1985 and continue through the present day. A pictorial history of the rodeos is also included. It displays photographs and newspaper clippings for many of the rodeos between 1943 and 2017.

Lastly, Chapter Six of the book provides a tabular listing of key people, living and dead, who worked together to make these rodeos happen. They include any who held an office or served on a committee, or who worked at the rodeos.

The book is thoroughly indexed and has a detailed Contents listing; two features that make it easy to locate needed information very quickly. Readers will appreciate these features as they want to locate contestant names and events from the distant past.

The authors are accepting orders for delivery of the book in February, 2018. Buyers can either pay in advance or agree to pay on delivery. The book will be 8-1/2 x11-inches with a soft, laminated cover having a full-color picture. The book sells for $25.

The Williams Pioneer Review has a small staff of one, covering all of Colusa County; but we’re proud to have the assistance of a large army of community contributors to extend our range and reach. This is one of those stories. If you have a story you would like to share, please email them to: or give us a call.