The western foothills in Colusa County came to life last weekend.
Thousands of people packed the town of Stonyford for the annual parade and rodeo, sponsored by the Stony Creek Horsemen’s Association.
The rodeo celebrated its 75th year with professional rodeo events, including bull riding, bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding and barrel racing in the Brother Moore Arena.
The Stony Creek Horsemen’s Association was formed to manage the Gay Nineties Parade in 1939, with principals Lawrence “Sharkey,” Moore, Charlie Butler and David Sullivan.
The Moore family, including Sharkey’s bother Earl and sister Beulah, were the primary principals of getting the rodeo going in 1943, and keeping it going through their children and grandchildren to this day.
Saturday’s Stonyford Rodeo Parade, which has run continuously since 1985, kicked off the two-day event, which was dedicated to Stonyford residents Barry and Sandy Corbin, who have been active in the Stony Creek Horsemen’s Association for a number of years.
“The last 33 years of the parade has been a great success and lots of fun for the children, as well as the adults,” said Denny Bungarz, master of ceremonies. “Many people work hard to see that everyone has a lot of fun, excitement, and enjoys the rodeo weekend with their family and friends.”
Attendance at this year’s parade and rodeo were down slightly from previous years, with those in attendance suspecting that high gas prices had something to do with it.
“We’ve been used to lower prices for quite a few years,” said Cassidy Anderson, whose family makes the trip to the rodeo from the Penn Valley area or beyond. “Right now the price of gas is quite a shock to the system. We have a pretty big family that usually comes up to the rodeo both days. This year, quite a few of us decided to pick Saturday or Sunday, but not both.”
Most of the parade regulars did make it back this year,” said Madrie Smith, who organizes the parade with Denise Keeler. “I think we had just two less entries from last year.”
Parade regulars included the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department, Bear Valley Indian Valley Fire Department, Maxwell Fire Department, along with Smokey Bear and the U.S. Forest Service.
Zeke Ficher and grandkids, with his mule team, were new to the parade this year. The local Hester Ranch also made a name for itself in this year’s parade, giving the Corkill Wild Bunch a run for its money as an entertaining walking group.
Joe and May Hester established the ranch (organic grass-fed beef) in Stonyford in 1998. The couple has 11 children and 10 grandchildren, most participating in the parade, with a cowboy on horseback and a “human” bull.
Elk Creek FFA, Stonyford 4-H, local churches, individual riders, and antique cars also participated.
Stonyford Rodeo Queen Lauren Ferguson-Hilbert, 17, of Chico, reigned over the two-day rodeo. Ferguson-Hilbert attends Chico High School, where she participates in FFA, 4-H, and competes in California High School Rodeo Association events. She plans to attend Feather River College to study equine and ranch management.
Caylie Gardner, 14, of Elk Creek, was first runner-up in last Friday’s queen competition. Aubrianna Keeler, 16, of Stonyford was chosen Miss Congeniality.
For the 75th Rodeo celebration, a number of former rodeo queens rode in the 2018 parade, including 1986 Queen Jamie (Pennabaker) Traynham, of Maxwell; 1987 Queen Daurice (Kalfsbeek) Smith, of Colusa; 1898 Queen Jackie (Smith) Sites, of Maxwell; 1990 Queen Stephanie Gleason, of Stonyford; and 1991 Queen Shelly (LaGrande) Miller, of Arbuckle, and a half dozen more queens from the past 20 years.
Grand Marshal Sandy Corbin was Rodeo Queen in 1979. ■