The Price of Admission to the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo? Priceless

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Source: KRCR TV/Facebook

In a perfect world, there’s a magical morning-after-rodeo pill to protect about 2,000 men, women and children who enjoyed one sunny Sunday afternoon of bliss in exchange for COVID-19 risk of infection during a mass gathering that ignored national, state and county public health restrictions in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Unfortunately, it’s a highly imperfect world in general, and more so here in Shasta County lately. Friday, our county was flirting with full engagement into Stage 2. Sunday, the mass gathering — more commonly referred to as the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo –took place. By Monday, the state had soured on its relationship with Shasta County when it became known that the Cottonwood event was held despite our state’s ban on large gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis. Shasta County screwed up royally. We lost the state’s trust, and who knows how long it will take for Shasta County to convince the state that we committed a one-time mistake, and that we’re worthy of trust and respect again one day.

No surprise, the story of how thousands of Shasta County Californians defied state and county orders for a rodeo has been picked up around the world. It was addressed in “SF GATE,” with the headline: ‘We have rights given to us by God’: Calif. rodeo draws thousands, and even an Australia publication: “California attracts thousands despite social distancing restrictions.

Closer to home, an exuberant  KRCR TV reporter – sans mask – went to the rodeo, talked with some people and shot some interesting video. The video was cringe-worthy, showing people crowded shoulder to shoulder in the stands, and not a face mask in sight.

But the worst part of all this wasn’t the global shaming. The worst part is that our entire county — all 180,000 of us — now face the dire consequences of 2,000 individual’s decision to break the rules and attend one rodeo.

Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency sent out a press release Monday to announce the disappointing news. 

For the record, I don’t put the lion’s share of blame on the people who attended the annual Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo. More about that in a second.

Cottonwood is an idyllic rural community south of Redding. It’s also the small Shasta County town in which Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh recently thumbed his nose at our governor’s executive order by getting a non-essential haircut at a non-essential business, and then bragged about it on Facebook.

Wonder of wonders, guess who’s Cottonwood’s supervisor? Les Baugh.

Shasta County District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh hams it up with his Cottonwood barber in defiance of the governor’s executive orders.

Regarding Shasta County, I’ve long said there’s pretty much one degree of separation between most folks, but especially when it comes to our movers and shakers. One of Les Baugh’s best buddies is former Sheriff Tom Bosenko, who retired a few months ago, but not before recommending that the Shasta County Board of Supervisors hire Undersheriff Eric Magrini, which is exactly what happened. The quickie BOS appointment meant no pesky election, which won’t occur for that position until 2022.

Shasta County Sheriff Magrini.

Newcomer or not, when it comes to the fallout from the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo, the buck stops squarely at the feet of Shasta County’s top gun, Sheriff Eric Magrini. Not only did he know about the upcoming rodeo, but he justified it, and did nothing to stop it. If he had headed that rodeo off at the pass by forbidding it from happening in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We wouldn’t be wondering how much longer we’ll be in time-out because of one rodeo.

You can see exactly how big a part the sheriff played in giving the rodeo a glowing green light of approval by watching a KRCR interview in which a reporter talked to Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini before the rodeo: “Cottonwood Rodeo to take place on Sunday, Sheriff Magrini won’t enforce stay-at-home order.”

The station aired the clip the day before the rodeo. The upshot was the sheriff justified his approval for the rodeo, an event that has now jeopardized Shasta County’s ability to move fully into Stage 2 and start the ball rolling toward Stage 3. Right now, we’re in pandemic purgatory.

Sheriff Magrini told the reporter during the interview that the rodeo would go on as planned on Mother’s Day. Magrini said he’d spoken with Jeff Davis, the rodeo producer, who assured the sheriff that Davis was being responsible, that he wouldn’t be selling food or beverages, and that the rodeo would have hand-washing stations throughout the rodeo venue.

Slight segue, but I’m curious: If local students made the same pitch to Magrini as the rodeo folks, would their graduations be allowed, too? How about a small outdoor wedding with the promise of hand-sanitation stations, BYOB, and everyone brings their own food? Just wondering.

Magrini delved further into his pre-rodeo justification during the interview.

“And this is a very small little arena,” Magrini said. “It’s not like a stadium setting. It’s an outdoor venue, and he’s also going to be handing out CDC guidelines at the gate, so when they come in, they could practice their social distancing and watch some people ridin’ broncs and ridin’ horseback. The sheriff’s office works to gain compliance through education.”

After that, he delivers a quickie soundbite about about people being responsible and how we’ve flattened the curve and something about not opening floodgates.

” … We’ve had a low, we’ve flattened that curve, we’ve gone almost a week and a half now with no positives,” Magrini said. ” … So that’s very good.”

Why, after acknowledging the importance of public safety with regard to the novel coronavirus, would Magrini forge ahead and still sanction a mass-gathering rodeo? It defies logic.

Hey! I have an idea! Shasta County doesn’t have THAT many COVID-19-related deaths, and we’ve gone almost a week and a half without any positive COVID-19 cases! What do you say we celebrate with a rodeo out in supervisor Les Baugh’s district! Heck, we saw what happened when Baugh blatantly thumbed his nose at Gavin by publicizing his Cottonwood haircut stunt in a non-essential barbershop while Baugh’s wife (vice mayor of Anderson, but oh well) looked on. Nothing happened to him, except a little closed-session spanking. Heck, he’s pretty much a hero at this point! Giddy up!

Did Magrini think the public would somehow overlook his wholesale acceptance of the rodeo and the part he played in its existence if he said yes to the rodeo first and then recited some public-health rhetoric second? Not likely. It was about as effective as telling a bunch of teenagers they can have the keys to the house without adults present, plus the entire stocked liquor cabinet for the weekend, but then switching to a winking Mr. Authoritarian with a suddenly stern speech about responsible drinking and safe sex.

Y’all be good, OK?

When you have a sheriff who displays such little regard for his own county’s public health directives, it’s no wonder the rodeo organizers didn’t cancel their annual event.  When the sheriff says yes, why would the rodeo say no?

For the sake of all Shasta County residents, Magrini should have stopped that rodeo in its tracks before it got out of the chute; before the first of those 2,000 cabin-fever-suffering rodeo-lovers plopped down 15 bucks each for the pleasure of mingling with a few thousand other rodeo-lovers, using public restrooms and enjoying food from the same food trucks. Pandemic be damned.

Why should Magrini have put a stop to the rodeo? Because he’s the freakin’ sheriff, that’s why, and because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and because it’s his sworn duty to not just protect and serve our people, but also protect the process that enables our county to move safely and methodically through all four stages to re-open our region and restore our economy. That’s why.

Instead, he hid behind his claims to be an educator, not an enforcer. News flash, sheriff: You’re supposed to enforce when rules are being broken. That’s why they call it law enforcement.

But there are plenty of other bucks to pass around, and I’d say the next major buck stop is the very top of Shasta County’s heap, at the desk of County Executive Officer Matthew P. Pontes.

Like Magrini, Pontes is relatively new on the job, too.  He’s only been the county’s CEO since January, while Magrini has been the county’s sheriff since December.

Matt Pontes, Shasta County Executive Officer 

You may have noticed that Pontes has been eerily quiet about the events of the last few days regarding Shasta County’s briefly successful brush with Stage 2, followed by the county’s backslide to its former restrictions. What does Pontes, our county’s leader, have to say about all this?


However, during the Shasta County HHSA’s urgent media briefing on Monday, naturally the topic of the rodeo came up, and when the other e-word (enforcement) was mentioned to Pontes, in terms of consequences for those who’d defied public health guidelines, Pontes said that he preferred education over enforcement, though he added that enforcement was in the tool kit if needed.

There it is again: Education, not enforcement.

I do not know what kind of apocalyptic rainy day Magrini and Pontes are waiting for before they’ll open their rusty toolbox, set down the dull little educational pencil and swap it for an enforcement hammer, but now might be a good time.

Don’t misunderstand. Education is my preferred means of persuasion, but it only works for those who respect and value education, who want to learn, and who believe the teachers have their best interests at heart.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be Shasta County Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom these days, whose mission it is to keep an entire county safe. Monday, during the urgent media briefing, Ramstrom looked somewhat wistful when she described going into a store over the weekend, and being one of the only shoppers wearing a mask. This is what Shasta County public health people are up against lately: scores of people who scorn, ignore, fight and even mock public health efforts.

Source: Facebook

What’s more, here in Shasta County, the tide turns uglier by the day as a growing number of residents equate face masks and social distancing as a slippery slope toward ruining America and stripping them of their God-given rights.

Case in point, a flurry of posts erupted on Facebook regarding Shasta County’s jeopardized Stage 2 status following the rodeo.

“Sorry, but rules are not laws!!! Cowboy up!”

“I feel like we are being held after class because one student acted up… Pretty sure collective punishment is illegal…”

“this is not okay folks….we are being told when where what….come on????…it was a “rebel” move ,on the part of the rodeo officials they said “no” to shasta supervisors… and I applaud it ….no more (“mother may I “)…..nothing is more american than a good “ole” rodeo…God bless America”

That’s fairly mild. Take a scroll through Facebook and you’ll see examples of swastikas and concentration camps, and other signs that allude to violence, like this one that I found today posted by a Shasta County resident, someone who’s technically a Facebook “friend” of mine.

Source: Facebook

In my gut, I have a hunch why the sheriff did not step up to shut down the Cottonwood rodeo after he saw the “very small little” rodeo numbers swell into the thousands; when he saw that there was zero social distancing, no masks, and that there was in fact food served, when the organizer promised otherwise. Maybe he truly did think it would just be a little rodeo, and that everyone would maintain proper social distancing.

Magrini may be the new sheriff in town, but he’s local; an Enterprise High School graduate, someone who knows this area and its people well. No wonder that on March 25, Sheriff Magrini was quoted in a Riverside County story that explained why Magrini believed gun shops were essential services during the COVID-19 crisis, an area of discretion the governor granted to each county.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Our way of life in this rural county warrants this decision,” Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini said in a social media release earlier today while announcing that gun stores within Shasta County would be allowed to remain open as “essential services” to the County’s residents.

My hunch is that the sheriff knew that here in ultra-conservative Shasta County, and especially in District 5, it’s a place where many residents/voters applaud their supervisor for openly disobeying our governor’s executive order. Here in Shasta County, he knows that our people also like their guns. It’s about, as Magrini said in the article, “our way of life in this rural county”. Likewise, it’s no secret that many are loaded for bear and itching for a fight to defend what they see as their dwindling rights, especially during this “plandemic“. They don’t believe it. They think COVID-19 is exaggerated; a liberal hoax to destroy our country.

Protesters who want Shasta County to re-open rally outside the Shasta County Sheriff Office in Redding recently. Photo by Steve DuBois.

That’s why I’d like to give our sheriff and county CEO the benefit of the doubt for why they’re soft on enforcement and strong on giving lip service to the notion of education. Maybe the reason they aren’t comfortable with enforcement here in Shasta County is they’re afraid of the blow back.

Can you imagine what kind of a shit show might have ensued had law enforcement arrived after the rodeo was in full swing on Mother’s Day to break things up? I can imagine, and it’s not a pretty picture.

Side note, but many weeks ago during one of the HHSA media briefings, back when some people were protesting the stay-at-home orders in other places outside Shasta County, I asked Sheriff Magrini how he’d handle it if Shasta County folks showed up to protest. He said that if it happened in Redding, it would be an RPD jurisdiction situation, and so on for all the cities within the county. And when I asked if that meant he was in charge of the other areas that aren’t cities, like Cottonwood, for example, he said yes.

Good to know.

Urgent Public Health Message

Meanwhile, if you’ve read this far I have a public health message especially for those who attended the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo: If you and your loved ones were there, Shasta County HHSA advises you get tested for COVID-19 periodically, and by periodically, public health folks say every couple of weeks, to ensure you weren’t infected at the rodeo.

We’re lucky here in Shasta County, because we have a number of options. Visit to make an appointment for this new walk-up testing option. Appointments are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at Shasta College. Or, contact your healthcare provider for testing, or call Shasta County Public Health at (530) 225-5591 to be screened and scheduled for a mobile testing appointment.

Also, if you attended the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo, and you work with vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, the immune-compromised, or those in congregant settings (like group homes or assisted living facilities), HHSA recommends you let your employer know, just to be on the safe side.

Finally, if you attended the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo, you may consider self-isolating for a few weeks, just in case you have the COVID-19 virus, but you’re unaware, because you could be asymptomatic.

With any luck, nobody who participated in the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo will become sick. Everyone will be fine, especially the children, because they have so much life ahead of them. As long as we’re wishing, here’s to wishing that Shasta County will have zero new cases, and no more deaths. Soon we’ll be in the state’s good graces again, and we’ll zip along quickly to Stage 4 in no time. Life will return to normal. All will be well. We’ll never take our old lives for granted again.

And hopefully, despite the fact that thousands of people gathered tightly together for the Mother’s Day Cottonwood Rodeo, despite a governor’s executive order that said otherwise, maybe the worrywarts will be wrong, and there will be no spikes in Shasta County’s COVID-19 numbers this month.

And if all that happens, and if all is well, then maybe it is a perfect world here in Shasta County after all.

Monday-evening update: Shasta County reported one new positive COVID-19 case. 

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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107 Responses

  1. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    Shasta County welcome to the grand experiment that is taking over the country.
    Here in Phoenix a live Pro Golf tournament starts this week. Wickenburg opened early and the county sheriffs stated they wouldn’t make criminals out of honest people by enforcing stay at home rules. Beaches everywhere are flooded with people defying social distancing rules as well as large city parks. Mega churches are holding in person meetings. Gun sales are rising.
    Bernie Sanders said the country hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War. Which is more truth than fiction.
    What will happen is two things. The country will continue with a slow rise extending the first wave of COVI or a slight pause and the second wave will be the tsunami that followed the first wave earthquake and devastate the country.

    • I hadn’t heard that Bernie Sanders’ quote, but it’s a good one, and sadly, I think he’s right.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        There’s now a big spike in cases in the heartland states – where their predominantly right-wing populations have been less likely to observe precautionary mandates because they think this is all just some conspiracy to take down Trump. I fervently hope Shasta County isn’t going to meet the same fate.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          To be fair, that Midwestern spike is being driven by outbreaks in meat processing & packing plants—crowded, noisy places where people constantly yell at each other to communicate, the chill keeps the virus viable longer, and warm, exhaled breath droplets likely rise and then fall in the cold air.

          The affected plants were poised to close until Trump issued an executive order that they remain open and operational. The political cost of a meat shortage is no price to pay for tamping down Midwestern hot spots. Can I get any more cynical? Sure I can. Most of the plant workers are Messikin nationals, so in the view Trump Nation, who cares if they’re trading the virus among themselves?

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Let’s see Patrecia…half of the cases and deaths in the US are from New York. Run by a Democrat governor and Democrat mayor of NYC. More deaths in Long Island than the entire state of California. My guess is that you will ignore those facts because a Democrat can never be at fault.

          Pretty sad how this crisis has been politicized by the left.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            ~82,000 deaths in the USA to date. Less than 22,000 deaths in NY. My math puts that closer to one-fourth of the total. Caseload for NY is less than one-fourth of the country’s total.

            I guess one-half sounded “truthier.” No politicization intended by Doug in his gross misrepresentation of facts, of course. Nooooooooo.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            “Pretty sad how this crisis has been politicized by the left.”

            Doug, do you really believe that the right *has not* politicized this crisis?

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Hal…I said the other day that if the president wants to get something accomplished, then propose the opposite and then the left will go against him…no matter what the subject is. Because that is what they do, fight any and all Trump policies. A good example is the China travel restrictions and the knee-jerk reaction by the Democrats to call the president a racist and xenophobe, even knowing now that it was a good policy that undoubtedly saved lives.

            Democrats are exploiting the deadly pandemic by using it as a weapon to bludgeon the president during an election year. Can you deny that is happening? Changing the timeline to try and put forward that the administration should have acted sooner in January is politicizing . This has been all about Trump since the beginning. Any reasonable citizen knows that partisan politics has no place during a time of war. And we are at war…no doubt about that.

            Has the GOP politicized the crisis? Probably out of defense. It has to be frustrating for the president to endure the constant drumbeat of criticism…especially when his predecessor got a pass on virtually everything. The recent revelations about the abuses of power in the Russian investigation being a good example.

          • Avatar Kathryn McDonald says:

            Nice try, Doug. New York was hit so hard because Trump didn’t Shut down flights from Europe and because of the population density in the NYC area.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            A bunch of heavily armed thugs (so-called “militia” members) spent the day standing in front of a barber shop in Michigan that opened against state mandate, ready to attack the police if any official effort was made to convince the owner to close his doors.

            And why were they out there? Because Trump has been encouraging that kind of potential violence by telling these domestic terrorists to fight safety measures in states with Democratic governors. No wonder the (female) governor of Michigan is getting death threats and is under seize by Trump’s gun-toting lunatic army.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Doug sez: “Any reasonable citizen knows that partisan politics has no place during a time of war.”

            Using that logic, the British should have stuck with Neville Chamberlain, who ignored Hitler until it was too late. But the Brits didn’t stand pat. They dumped that chump for Winston Churchill, who ably led them through WWII.

            The linked piece does a pretty good job of describing Trump’s mindset, and the mindsets of guys like our resident Trump sycophant who buys into Trump’s paranoid belief that he, Commander Shinsplints, is the victim.


          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Kathryn of course I fully expected you to blame Trump…that is what you do. The president did in fact shut down travel from Europe. The mayor and governor of NY and NYC disregarded the recommendations of the Trump administration and the CDC and kept the NY subway system open. and again, against the advice of Dr Fauci and the CDC…Cuomo directed nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients, in March, nursing-home operators were told by state officials that they would be required to accept patients infected with Covid-19 who were discharged from hospitals but are still recovering and in need of care. Meanwhile the Navy hospital ship and the temporary hospital built sat empty.

            Orange man… bad, Democrat… good. What a simple way to go through life.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            As I recall, at the same time Trump was using this crisis as political leverage against China he also attempted to exploit it as an excuse to cut off all asylum-seekers and travel from Mexico and South America, even though there were virtually no cases in those countries.

            He then moved to cut off certain European countries, while exempting countries whose leaders he considered had fawned over him enough – like Britton, which had one of the highest number of cases at that point.

            And of course for some time he’s been deliberately encouraging the violent, heavily-armed thugs in his support base to threaten and harass Democratic governors, because promoting violence, prejudice, rage, and fear to serve his harmful personal agenda is what demented sociopaths like Trump DO.

            For Trump this has ALWAYS been all about self-serving politics and racism (not the well-being of the county), which Democrats – and anyone else with a brain – could easily recognize.

    • Avatar christian gardinier says:

      In fact, Cox Richardson’s recent book, “How The South Won The Civil War” is about how trumpublicans – who really hate Obama – have used all the attributes, including racism and plantation economics of the Southern Confederacy, from Goldwater to trump, to take over the Federal Government as we know it today. They might have won in 2016, but hopefully 2020 win be the new fall of Dixie.

  2. Avatar john says:

    Or a third thing will happen….nothing. Live free or die.

  3. I always enjoy your take on local politics. As with the Baugh column, you write leaner and meaner when you’re fired up. Way to hold their feet to that fire. Great job!

  4. Just a note that I’ll be out of pocket for a few hours, but I’ll return asap to catch up with comments. xod

  5. Avatar Kathy says:

    Again… thanks, Doni!
    Excellent piece.

  6. Avatar Robyne Hartman says:

    I didnt go to the rodeo but I am now going to shut myself in my house even more so because I live in Cottonwood. I’ve been wearing my mask, doing curbside for two months. My disinfectant wipes are in my car and purse. I am weary and now hold my breath to see what will happen in the next few weeks. Such a strange world.

    • Robyne, I understand how weary you must feel. Keep your mask handy, but remember to get outside and get some fresh air from time to time. (I have to remind myself to do that, too.)
      Hang in there!

      (Do you have a sense of what percentage of Cottonwood’s 3,300+ population attended the rodeo? Maybe the stands were filled with primarily outsiders. )

  7. Avatar Matt Clawson says:

    Very well reasoned and written. Having grown up in Red Bluff and now residing in Orange County, I have experienced so many flavors of the modern conservative movement. Unfortunately, the same folks that have worked tirelessly to redistribute wealth from the middle class to a concentration of super wealthy have also done a great job of marketing. Thus, the very real lack of opportunity in this county has been cleverly rebranded as a theft of liberty at the hands of whatever new-world-order conspiracy that best suits our tabloid-level critical thinking capacity. (Bonus points if it involves dark skinned people!)

    We can’t underestimate the damage that has been done or the work it will take to reverse the course – if possible. Keep up the good work.

  8. Avatar Annelise says:

    “I do not know what kind of apocalyptic rainy day Magrini and Pontes are waiting for before they’ll open their rusty toolbox, set down the dull little educational pencil and swap it for an enforcement hammer, but now might be a good time. “. This sentence made me stand up and applaud. Excellent work.

  9. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I long ago stopped having illusions about who we are and what we might become here in Shastanistan. This is us. Might as well make peace with it. The Sheriff will continue to pander to what he wagers is the majority who will provide for his job security, and there will be laissez-faire non-enforcement of the state’s guidelines: Do whatever you want. Make it about you. You, you, you.

    All of us will pay the price for this stunt, individually and as a community. My daughter, who brought my grandkids for a visit this past weekend for the first time in two months because she thought we were a relatively safe place, will go back to thinking of us as high-risk. The state will likely slow-roll approving our opening-up proposals. We are already being mocked across the country as mouth-breathing rubes.

    There’s nothing left to do except thank those whose self-righteousness and selfishness have set us back several giant steps, perhaps measured in weeks—delaying the return of liberties and livelihoods that all of us desire.

    Thanks, assholes.

    • Steve, I feel so sad to read about you, your daughter and your grandchildren. I understand that feel of discouragement, especially when we had that little glimmer of freedom this Mother’s Day weekend. I got to see my grandchildren in person for the first time in weeks. Now, I feel we’ve gone backward, and that is supremely horrible. I hate it.

  10. Avatar Mark Twitchell says:

    Yeah, thanks for making us the laughingstock of the world. Again.

  11. Avatar Mark Roman says:

    I’m in the open sooner rather than later camp, but this was not a smart move. Kind of like going into the outlaw biker bar to test your free speech rights.

  12. Avatar christian gardinier says:

    Doni, another great read!

    I see this as part of the culture war being inflected on the American People.

    Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys (and cowgirls)…
    From Bismarck to Laredo, Bakersfield to Redding, the romantic image of the rugged individualists who proved themselves through decent behavior, drove older Ford pickups, wore Levi’s, old boots and John Deer caps, is as iconic as the American Eagle. Rodeo, a few Coors, perhaps a little fisty cuff on Friday night, Merle, Winchester rifles, and Free Bird for the youngster’s, was the social norm. But that image is not as static as we might think.

    A few cowboys and girls still wear Levi’s but for the most part don’t live on a farm or ranch. Recently many have switched from John Deer to MAGA caps, the old trucks are now fast cars, high-end sport utility vehicles or new F 350’s if you can afford them, and a few just as likely to smoke weed as Marlboros.

    Some cowboys and cowgirls are now very worried about Covid -19 and other “government infringements” eroding their “rights,” and are worried about immigrants taking their jobs; although cowboys came from immigrants, immigrants have always grown our food and have given much more to society than have taken. And, for some, it’s no longer one or a few firearms for hunting or protection; it’s a small arsenal including what could be called assault riffles. Trump has tried to assimilate the cowboy culture and indeed, perhaps a majority of “cowboys” and “cowgirls” are Trump supporters and think rodeo is a way for them to thumb noses at Democrats … but not all!

    Merle said this about Trump, “He’s not a politician. I don’t think he understands the way things work in Washington… I think he’s dealing from a strange deck.” In fact, Merle bet on Obama in 2012 and fully endorsed Hillary in 2008. Cowboy cultural icons Jason Isbell and Kacey Lee Musgraves have also spoken out against him. Nope, Trump is not cowboy and he doesn’t own all of us!

    It’s romantic of cowboy culture to think rodeo as controlled chaos, man over nature a fight for rugged individualism amongst the herd. The problem is what are the rights of society? Is the right of reckless behavior, as deemed by the majority, which infringes on society, somehow protected in the U.S. Constitution?

    If the primary function of government is to protect the health and welfare Citizens of The United States and does that does that mean protect the dollar?

    Clearly, Trump thinks “my economy” is as important – or more important – than the health of this nation. But his lies about Covid 19, his blatant obstruction of Federal health provision to the states and to the people, his advocating for abandonment of safety Covid – 19 safety protections for all American Citizens, might just prove he loves his meat so much he ends up killing the goose that has been laying his golden eggs. And nope, boy howdy, that’s not good cowboying.

    • Avatar Jist Cuz says:

      The name title ‘PRESIDENT TRUMP” and the words “BAD KARMA” are SYNONYMOUS +!+

    • Avatar Kathryn McDonald says:

      Excellent comment. Thank you particularly for acknowledging that Merle was not a right-wing asshole, that he did not support Trump, and that he voted for Obama.

    • Avatar Ann Webber says:

      Beautiful comment! You have a wonderful way of expressing your point. Thank you!

  13. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s science, law of physics. We live in a “physical” world. Personally I consider “political suicide” a viable solution to ignorance in this valley. Unfortuna it will cost grandmother her life, Huh Magrini… Ba ha ha ha ha BAUGH!!


  14. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Matt Peebles wrote this on his Facebook page.

    “Civil disobedience can be a healthy part of democracy, but you’ve got to think it through and be smart about it if you want it to have the intended effect. Cottonwood, what was the plan? Where are your lawyers? To which level of government are you seeking to make a change? I’m all for decentralized political power and local determination, but unless you have a serious plan for secession or revolution (which you don’t), you have to start with what you have and work from there to change the system. Regardless of the community health outcomes (I’d honestly be surprised if anyone gets sick), the rodeo was still just a short-lived joyride with real, long-term economic consequences. If you want change, you’re going to need to put down your fists and learn how to play a legit game of chess.”


  15. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    The Vietnamese used the game of ‘GO’ strategy to crush the American advance “Chess Players”. ‘GO’ was invented in China 2500 years ago and was in part utilized by Genghis Khan whose strategies are studied by military academia world wide to this day. The Cottonwood Rodeo was a “Checkers” event at best. Loco political players are actually defeating themselves if you are watching closely and understand the games in the bid for DOMINANCE and CONTROL (Toltec teachings) +!+

  16. Avatar Gary Tull says:

    With the national infection rate holding in high numbers, an outsider could argue that the opening photo looks pretty much like a bunch of dumb hicks at a rodeo (as Todd Snider might say in a song lyric). Not a mask in sight… not a smart look.

    I’ll be honestly surprised if a number of them don’t get sick.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Gary, I agree with Matt Peeble’s Facebook comment except for that part. I’m with you; I’ll be surprised if no additional infections happen. I hope I’ll be surprised.

    • Avatar ELHolt says:

      Jist Cuz…Wasn’t that Todd in a YouTube video after being distracted by a girl near the front who kept asking him why he was so cute he finally said to her…”I thought I told you to stay in the truck”. Turns out the mother of the girl commented that it was her daughter and she was purty drunk. Wish I could find that video. Todd is funnier than drinking and sitting on a post. Thanks for the laugh I needed that.

  17. Avatar Liz Zanze says:

    Thank you for the excellent article, Doni. After reading about the haircut incident with Supervisor Baugh, I called his office. Strangely, nobody is there and everyone is working from home. I will be calling the offices of Sheriff Magrini (530) 225-5551 and CEO Matthew Pointes (530) 225-5561 to lodge a complaint regarding their negligence. Maybe if we all call?

  18. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    If guns in Shasta county are a “way of life”, wouldn’t it make sense that the county gun humpers already have an adequate supply of weapons and ammunition?
    Why would gun stores need to be an “essential” business?

    The sheriff has a weird sense of essential. Lumping gun stores in with hospitals and healthcare workers seem to be opposite sides of the coin.
    Certainly since the sheriff was so eager to keep the gun stores open he did his due diligence to assure the employees and the customers followed the COVID mitigation by wearing masks, and limited number of people gathering in these stores.

  19. Avatar Cyndi says:

    A few points I’d like to make are that Shasta County did not hold the rodeo, we as Shasta County residents did not do this.
    The people and businesses of Shasta County should not be punished over a rodeo held on private property.
    For what it’s worth, the sheriff went to the rodeo grounds more than once and was shown the hand washing stations, etc, in place to keep attendees safe. He was informed that distancing and PPE were going to be available and recommended and that they did not expect such a large turn out.
    He also took an oath to uphold the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which are still in effect during a pandemic. Whether we agree with that or not.
    To stop the rodeo would be in contrast to the oath he took.
    We need to remember that the rodeo was not illegal, no laws were broken.
    The governor’s orders are against the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
    The governor punishing Shasta County is not the fault of the residents. His actions are his own. And they are unconstitutional.
    At least ten lawsuits have been filed against him.

    • Avatar Ed Marek says:

      “…The governor’s orders are against the Constitution and Bill of Rights…”

      No, they are not.

      Newsom is entirely within his rights, and in fact is required by his California Constitutional obligation as Governor, to enforce emergency measures to protect the people of this state.

      Consider that, not only can the government require you to stay home when required to protect others, it is not a violation of your constitutional rights (with limited religious exceptions) for the government to conscript you to leave your home, take up arms, and risk your life in a foreign war.

      You have obligations, as well as the rights, as an American citizen.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Cynci — Maybe you skipped 8th grade civics, or failed that course. In this country, if you think a law or other government edict is unconstitutional, we have a court system in which you can challenge that law.

      You don’t appoint yourself the arbiter of the law’s legality, or sheepishly follow some puffed-up, ignorant “patriot” who thinks he’s a “sovereign citizen” and believes that the constitution grants him the right to do whatever he wants, because anything short of that is tyranny.

      Some rubes in western Pennsylvania tested out that theory in the 1790s with the Whiskey Rebellion, using violence and intimidation to refuse to pay a legally mandated federal tax. President Washington himself rode at the head of an army to suppress the insurgency, with 13,000 militiamen provided by various governors. The rube insurgents slunk away with their tails between their legs. They learned that “liberty” doesn’t mean do whatever the hell you want.

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Lawsuits get filed all the time for all sorts reasons; the filing of such does not presume one’s complaint as valid or invalid. Also, the whole I don’t wanna wear a mask, you can’t make me thing? That behavior doesn’t scream “patriot” or “rational, thinking adult”. It’s behavior I’d expect from a toddler who’s having a tantrum and who’s immediate concern is with themselves and only themselves. Care about someone other than yourself. Wear a mask when appropriate to do so in stores, doctor’s offices, at RODEOS and PARADES, etc. It’s such an incredibly easy ask. Please act like caring adults; quite literally, other’s lives are depending on you to do so. Please and thank you.

  20. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    I would imagine that the passive blue registered voters aren’t feeling so passive these days. I would suggest that since those that actually threaten all of us have been expose’d recently again that we not forget, follow through next election and get’er done +!+

  21. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    Good luck with that logic.
    Cottonwood Rodeo was sanctioned by Shasta County Law enforcement. Not sure how you can divorce the county from that ignorant decision by the highest ranking LE in our area.
    What evidence do you provide that the sheriff visited the rodeo grounds more than once? Did he visit on the day of the rodeo?

    While you may wish otherwise, the state mandates for COVID 19 are constitutional. They are “laws”, they are actions within the powers of the governor.
    They are actions that states and before that colonies have utilized since the beginning of our country.

  22. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    It has always amazed me how many call Shasta County cowboy country because there is one rodeo a year in Redding. Cottonwood has a stockyard that has stock auctions and uses rodeos as a sell tool. Shasta County, as well as the rest of the north state was built on loggers and miners. The much applauded Turtle Bay park showcases that. The fairgrounds in Anderson has timber fairs, miner fairs, racetrack races. The car culture is more celebrated than rodeos in Shasta County.
    Wyoming, the cowboy state, has rodeos every weekend all across the state, with CFD bringing the world to Cheyenne once a year. This year they haven’t canceled CFD yet.
    Shasta County is just wannabe cowboy posers where the chainsaw and pick axe are more the tool than guns and holsters. Classic cars and hotrods dominate the scene not pintos and palominos.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Bruce — Shasta County has a decent amount of cowboy country to it, but it is well to the east of Redding. East is also where the official county fair is held—in McArthur.

      It may still be cowboy country, but, I was amazed during my recent trip to Fall River Valley how much grazing land has been converted to wild rice paddies these past couple of decades. Better rice paddies than hobby ranches for Bay Area expats, I guess.

      • Avatar Bob Mather says:

        A friend in the mortgage business here in Redding says the pace has increased as cities start looking for open space to live and build on.

  23. Avatar Beckie Baker says:

    Wow, way to nail it Doni. I am humiliated right now to call Shasta County home. Magrini needs to grow a spine. Then again, the good old boys are still alive and well here in Hicksville.

  24. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    I’m only saying this once:
    Racist comments, including likening having to wear a mask, not being able to get a manicure, or go to a baseball game to slavery will be deleted.
    I am really out of fucks to give on this.

    • Avatar Eleanor says:

      I’ve been meaning to say this for some time, Barbara. You really are the best! I know of no one else who could do the job you do. Wittily, on cue, fairly, on topic and always just at the right time. Thanks to you, and Doni, for keeping ANC a class act. I can imagine how some folks would and could hijack this site for their own purposes without you two. Love it!

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Barbara, sure you don’t want to simply “educate” supposed “grown-ups” why such “slavery” analogies are racist? Ya, me neither; I’m out of fucks too. Thank you.

    • Avatar Liinda Cooper says:

      Sing it, Barbara Rice. Thank you.

  25. Avatar Chris Rodriguez says:

    Excellent work Doni. We need quality local journalism now more than ever.

  26. Avatar Carla says:

    When Shasta County makes the news it’s always for something dumb, unfortunately.

  27. Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

    Next Sunday, we’re setting up at the Cottonwood Bobby Jones Arena for a genuine Hillbilly Hoedown, and ya’ll are welcome to attend. Uncle Goober will be on hand to judge the music, and Aunt Bea will be sewing the costumes. Opie himself will be on hand to run the kissing booth. No worries – we checked in with the Big Guy, and God says it’s A-OK with him…as long as it’s A-OK with Sheriff Magrini. Come by and set a spell. Take yer shoes off. Ya’ll come back real soon and we’ll put a hog in the ground and continue to exercise our God-given right to compromise the public health for the sake of a few moments of hillbilly hysteria. See ya real soon!

  28. Avatar Candace says:

    Rodeos are not my personal thing and for obvious reasons I think going ahead with this last one was both unlawful and an unnecessary health risk for many, including those who didn’t attend the event and who may come in contact with those who did. While I made a sarcastic “Co-vid Cowboys” remark in a separate comment I don’t agree with the painting of all people who enjoy competing in or attending rodeos in general as stupid hicks. I don’t think that’s true and I think it helps no one and results in furthering the divide.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Wow, this is scary Candace…I was getting ready to post a similar comment, but you beat me to it.
      Thank you The only difference is you , that you were nicer than I would have been.

    • Avatar Hal Johnson says:

      I agree with you, Candace. I see that Doug also agrees with you. That has me a little scared …

    • Avatar Kathryn McDonald says:

      In my opinion, much of what goes on at rodeos is animal abuse, and I do not respect those who attend them.

  29. Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

    Here’s the thing: Les Baugh made the mistake of publicizing his haircut. As an elected official, his job is to make a conscious effort to represent policy in a responsible fashion. His wanton publicity makes him look idiotic, and makes his constituents look like Bozoes, as well. Sheriff Magrini’s mistake was made in consciously and selectively choosing to not enforce gubernatorial policy. Can an elected official make that decision? Can the sheriff pick and choose the rules he sees fit to enforce, and let violations occur within his jurisdiction that run counter to published policy, run counter to local public health opinion, threaten the public health, and postpone economic inducements that were already in the works? I see some obvious enforcement boundaries have been overstepped here, and the residents of Shasta County deserve a fairer shake. Both Supervisor Baugh and Sheriff Magrini deserve balanced disciplinary measures for not undertaking rational policy enforcement measures determined by expert opinion – here, and elsewhere – to be in the best vital interest of public health. They have both unnecessarily put lives at risk, and should be censured accordingly.

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Bill V, agreed.

    • Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

      Also included in that bunch I’d Shasta county health expert Karen Ramstrom.
      She was the person responsible for verifying all the COVID mandates were met before going into stage 2?
      A blunder that costs many restaurants a lot of money for reopening only to immediately ce shut down.
      The blunder also unleashed thousands of people to face exposure to coronavirus when they believed things were safer than what they are.

      This is a major black eye for our local government, local LE, and all the people in Shasta county.

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Bob Mather, this is all making me dizzy. We’re open! We’re closed! We’re open! Pinky swear!

      PSA: Please, people, wear a mask; preferably one that doesn’t resemble a clown; which in retrospect wont be an issue seeing as we seem to have a healthy number of Covid-19 conspiracy theorists in Shasta County. The clown masks have likely already been scooped up and modified to have a Q shaped mouth; anonymously done of course. Do I sound jaded? Nah. It’s all good. We’re all good. Don’t pay any attention to other people dying; after all, ignorance is bliss, right?

  30. Go get ’em sheriff. Or, in this case, not. Sit back and play Redneck Roulette.

    What I wonder is this: If someone falls ill, and a tracking/tracing investigation leads back to the Rodeo, who gets sued? The Rodeo? The Sheriff? The County. That’s the next big entertainment event, I think.

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      Litigious country that we are, they all get sued in a shotgun litigation filing, and the courts get to parse out the varying degrees of liability – the sherif for dereliction, the rodeo company for non-compliance, the county for non-adherence to public health policy. The singular key compelling enjoinders would be producing evidence of criminal negligence. In the event that life is lost, the courts would be increasingly sympathetic to such an argument. Given the limited COVID caseload currently present in Shasta – and the notable absence of other large events – a contagion cluster traceable to the rodeo event would stand out like the proverbial “red herring”…
      From a purely epidemiological standpoint, it’s a two week setback – minimum. If it gives rise to a cluster of infection, that setback could grow to months very quickly. All those in attendance that largely ignored social distancing should be in self-isolation…and, the longer they wait, the further the disease spreads. It may all be a moot point to some, but all it’d really take is an inadvertent exposure to a vulnerable patient group…like a couple of those happy kids rushing to hug grandma. The efficacy of COVID-19’s capacity for transmission in the asymptomatic stage of infection is poorly understood, at best. As prolific as it appears, there may yet be an unrecognized vector. Time’ll tell. In the meanwhile, it’s all experimental entertainment, eh?

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Robb, I was thinking of you just today, that’s it’s been a long time since you’ve posted. Nice to see you.

  31. Avatar Candace says:

    Hal, I’m scared that I’m not scared that you and Doug are scared. Wait, that makes me scared and not scared at the same time. Life’s confusing.

  32. Douglas Craig Douglas Craig says:

    Let us fully acknowledge the “essential service” that Doni Chamberlain provides our community every time she writes about such important issues as this. Well done Doni. We are grateful to you. Each of us is a participant in a world-wide experiment. We are all being tested by this virus. And we need to remember COVID-19 does not have any political affiliation but is merely behaving as its nature requires it to behave. It is not liberal or conservative and will infect whoever it can. We are all already free. We are free to place ourselves and others at risk of serious illness and death and we are free to refrain from doing so. We know enough now to at least know what not to do. The fact that many do not understand this fundamental truth is a threat to all of us. Still, I am hopeful we will eventually learn to be humble not arrogant, loving and caring, not hateful and bigoted, kind and cautious, not rude and careless, scientific and wise, not gullible and foolish. It is fascinating and a bit frightening that the fate of our species may depend on us all simply becoming better humans. I pray we learn our lessons quickly but it looks like many of us need more time to grasp the enormity of the challenge we are facing. Meanwhile and tragically, I fear this death march has barely begun.

    • Once again, Doug, we look to you for words of love and wisdom. This is pretty much what it’s all about:
      ” I am hopeful we will eventually learn to be humble not arrogant, loving and caring, not hateful and bigoted, kind and cautious, not rude and careless, scientific and wise, not gullible and foolish.”

      That’s my prayer.

  33. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    If, possible, might, could.
    I am down here in Arizona and we are opening up and the news showed several bars and gatherings that were packed with no social distancing or masks at all. People have, not might or could, been dying everyday. Yes, I am scared and we will still follow the guidelines despite businesses opening.
    Shasta County, according to those posting on Anews, has not been following the CDC guidelines of masks and social distancing all along and the number of deaths can be counted on one hand. Several, including my family and friends there, question the stay at home orders. For this they are called abusive names because they don’t follow science and propaganda news. That science and news shows the north state is one of the safest places in the nation despite, according to Anews posters, few are following the COVI guidelines.
    Bernie Sanders was right when he said the nation hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War. He said that in 2017 and it has gotten worse.

    • Avatar John Whittenberger says:

      I think Shasta County has been lucky not to have an outbreak yet. Enough folks have been doing masks and distancing and enough business have shut down.

      “Enough” and luck is not a long term plan. Folks doing Rodeo like foolishness could get us
      out of the lucky column in a New York minute.

  34. Avatar Sylvie Vray says:

    Thank you for your article.
    What is de heartening is to see the number of people who decided to put themselves at risk , which would be ok as long as they do not put anyone else at risk. I guess some people are so self centered they can not even see the consequences of their actions.
    The only way they may, will be the day they loose a loved one.
    Hard awakening…
    I am not wishing this to anyone and wishes people could be respectful of each other’s life

  35. Avatar Andrea says:

    Fake news. There wasn’t thousands. That venue couldn’t hold thousands. Tell me why are the restaurants opening if we are getting punished? People have the right to feed their families, pay their rent/mortgage payments. You have the option to stay home. We are rural. I can see keeping the larger populated areas but not our rural area

  36. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    Keen observation and appropriate response is the key to success. Survival of the fittest. We’ll know if anyone survived that rodeo in about 5 weeks… +!+

  37. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    You win again, Doni! Putting all of the thoughts I have bouncing around into perfectly formed sentences! I appreciate your valuable work, asking the right questions and delivering for us logical, well written evaluation of our crazy news!

  38. Avatar John Whittenberger says:

    I think Shasta County has been lucky not to have an outbreak yet. Enough folks have been doing masks and distancing and enough business have shut down.

    “Enough” and luck is not a long term plan. Folks doing Rodeo like foolishness could get us
    out of the lucky column in a New York minute.

  39. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    Brilliantly done, Doni! Your analysis of the issues is right on target. And what a tragedy to risk your own life and your children’s life to go to the rodeo, jammed next to others and no protective masks.

    I was thinking about how popular culture loves zombie programs. So imagine if there were zombies roaming around, instead of an invisible, deadly virus. And the zombies were instantly repelled by face masks, and wouldn’t come near someone wearing one.

    What would you say to a friend who insisted it was his right to go outside bare-faced?

  40. Avatar Megan says:

    Thank you Doni Chamberlain for sharing your journalism and writing gifts!

  41. Avatar Katie says:

    The Cottonwood Rodeo, would have been an excellent case study. If health officials had said, yes you can attend the rodeo, but test all attendees going in, then test them again two weeks later. Now that would have been great data.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Katie, We do have data from other states that have opened early, with a much larger sample size than a dinky Rodeo. Georgia and Texas, who reopened last month, have not seen an increase in positive cases. The percent of positive cases have dropped in both states after reopening. In a county with a population of 180,000 people, Shasta has had around 30 cases total. That is about all the evidence I need to tell me that we are in good shape to start reopening.

      • Avatar Anita Lynn Brady says:

        Doug you need to expand your media sources. There are hot spots in both of the states you mention. Blindly ignoring data is the same as lying. Did you miss Georgia recent attempt to skew the data– to make a downward trend? It sadly was manipulated by date to tell a different story than the truth. Then there’s FL.They have been dictated by the Gov to not release certain data, because you know that ignorance is bliss.

        • Avatar Anita Lynn Brady says:

          Just heard on news that there is spike in TX.
          Yee-haw!!! Biggest single day jump in cases.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Gosh, Anita…it sounds like you are thrilled there was a spike in positive cases. Yee-haw!! If you look at the data, it would show there was a spike in positive cases because these states ramped up testing. So of course there would be more confirmed cases. What you have to look at is the percent of positive tests to total tests. That number is showing a steady decrease.

            Look, I get it. It is your goal, as is others, to drag this crisis out as long as possible…for the sole reason of trying to damage the president before the election. It doesn’t help your side if things go back to normal, the economy starts moving forward and the death toll is just a fraction of what the experts were predicting. Sorry to disappoint you

  42. Avatar SB says:

    If a few people who attended the rodeo come down with something…then, I hate to say it, but that’s their own tough luck. They KNEW what they may have been walking into. Hopefully, they just stay in their own isolated bubbles though and don’t spread anything. If one chooses to do something that may result in undesirable consequences for themselves, then hey…personal responsibility.

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