The Redding Rodeo has long been on the map, thanks to a generous prize fund that draws the top cowboys and supportive fans that flock to the posse grounds after having been fired up from Rodeo Week events.
Now that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) has again picked Redding as the lone California rodeo to host the televised Champions Challenge event, the Redding Rodeo is on the map and the rodeo radar.
“It’s a big deal,” Rodeo Chairman Bennett Gooch said Tuesday during a media lunch to drum up support for the 66th annual Redding Rodeo, which will be held May 14-17. “I travel around quite a bit, and I always get questions when they see the Redding Rodeo shirt. The Champions Challenge has caused quite a stir.”
Gooch said he was vacationing at Yellowstone National Park when a stranger spotted his shirt and began peppering him with questions about the rodeo. Apparently bucking broncs and snortin’ bulls held more sway than Old Faithful.
It is quite the feather in Redding’s cap. The Champions Challenge adds an extra day of rodeo action while ensuring fans will see the sport’s top athletes. The reigning PRCA champions have already committed to Redding, including All-Around Cowboy Trevor Brazile.
The Champions Challenge format lines up 10 cowboys in each event who compete for an added $20,000 in prize money. The 10 are made up of the top seven finishers in each event from the 2013 world standings, the two cowboys leading the 2014 world standings and 2014 Wrangler Million Dollar Tour standings and the defending champion from the 2013 Redding Rodeo.
Rodeo fans needn’t wait for the Champions Challenge event on Saturday night, Gooch said. “There’s not a good or bad day. World champions are going to be scattered throughout each night.”
Those world champions, and the 450 others, will be after their share of the rodeo’s $200,000 purse. As always, the main events are bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding. With a little luck, a cowboy can land a spot in the Champions Challenge by winning an event on one of the first three days of the rodeo.
Wednesday and Thursday have been designated family nights, with earlier start times (6:45 as opposed to 7 p.m.) and reduced ticket prices, according to Lauren Rulofson, 19, the 2014 Miss Redding Rodeo Queen.
Friday the 16th is the third annual Chicks n Chaps event, which starts at noon at the rodeo arena. Participants can become cowgirls for the day, learn about rodeo events from professional cowboys, listen to a speaker discussing breast cancer and participate in silent and live auctions. A $65 registration fee includes a goody bag, a shirt and a ticket to the Friday night rodeo. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Other Redding Rodeo events include:
Saturday, May 10: 5 p.m. steak feed and dance
Tuesday, May 13: 5 p.m. Asphalt Cowboys chili cook-off; 6 p.m. NSBRA/WPRA Jackpot Barrel Race; 8 p.m. Street Dance
Friday, May 16: 5 to 10 a.m. Pancake Breakfast at Roaring Gulch (Market and Sacramento streets in downtown Redding)
Saturday, May 17: 10 a.m. Redding Rodeo Parade; 1:45 p.m., meet cowboys at Crown Motors
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at email@example.com.