A former Maxwell High School Rodeo Queen has been named Grand Marshal of the 2021 Maxwell High School Rodeo Parade.
Irene Rocha Felix, a 1960 Maxwell High School graduate, was selected by the rodeo committee for her dedication and support of the Maxwell community for more than 60 years.
Felix was the 1957 Maxwell Rodeo Queen, a title she won after two run-off elections against a representative from each of the four high school classes.
Competition for the coveted queen title was so fierce in the 1950s, that by the beginning of the next decade, the Queen competition was restricted only to junior and senior girls.
“Our class was really, really close,” Felix said. “I was a freshman when I was queen. The following year, Colleen Johnson ran from our class and won. The year after that, Linda Pearson ran and won, and the last year, Shirley Fletcher ran, and she won; all from the same class.”
Felix was born and raised in Maxwell and attended Maxwell schools. After high school, she attended Chico State University to study business administration.
She has been married to her best friend, Tony Felix, for 56 years. The couple live in the Delevan area, where they farm rice and raised two children, Stacy Clark, of Willows, and Craig Felix of Maxwell (both Maxwell High School graduates), and are the very proud grandparents of three.
“I’ve always been proud to be a little Maxwellite,” Felix said. “You got to love the small town.”
Felix is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, California Cattlewomen’s Association, Sacred Heart Sodality, and Northern California Forest Service Retirees. Felix worked for the U.S. Forest Service on the Mendocino National Forest for many years and retired from the Human Resource Department.
She and Tony have been active in the community and have supported Maxwell schools and community organizations with their fundraising endeavors and events for many years.
While the Maxwell Free High School Rodeo has changed little over the years since Felix reigned as Queen, the heyday of the rodeo was when students had far less amusements to occupy themselves.
“The rodeo was a really big deal in those days,” Felix said. “I think you had far more participation from students. The year I was queen, I worked in the chuckwagon for a three hour shift. And it was so much fun, because we solicited food. We would go with whoever could borrow a car and they would let us out of school in the afternoon so we could go around to those who could cook. There were always five or six people that would make beans or macaroni salad. All the food was donated by the Maxwell Community.”
Felix said the Maxwell Rodeo has given generations of people over the past 90 years a reason to return home, a reason to gather with family and friends, and a reason to keep alive the traditions of a small town.
“It just gives me goosebumps to think about it,” Felix said. “It is such an honor to be the Grand Marshal.”
The Maxwell Rodeo Parade gets underway May 15 at 9:45 AM. This year’s theme is “90 years of bulls, steers, and rodeo cheers.” §