Rowell Ranch Rodeo Rides Wrangle Bulls and Steers

By Cody Hazen
Sports Editor

As Garth Brooks so fittingly sang, “It’s bulls and blood, dust and mud, it’s the roar of a Sunday crowd. And they call the thing rodeo.”

The 90th annual Rowell Ranch Rodeo took place last weekend at the recently renamed Cecil Jones Arena in Hayward.

Sunday was ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink’ day and featured cowboys and event workers sporting pink shirts and clothing to raise awareness about breast cancer. Although the cause was good, a cowboy in pink will always be a strange sight.

The event drew spectators of all ages across the Bay Area. Many visitors were dressed in country attire, but the usual fashion diversity of the area still showed through.

The rodeo began with the tradition of contestants, rodeo queens, sponsors and rodeo officials riding down from the ridge and into the arena. Except for a flag girl that fell off of her horse, the ceremony went smoothly.

The first event of the day was the ball-busting bareback horse riding. Contestants had to hang on and ride a horse without a saddle for eight seconds to score. Their final score was based on the performance of both the rider and the horse.

Steer wrestling was the next event of the day. Two riders chased down the steer, one roped the animal and the other hopped off his horse and had to take the steer and flip it on its back to stop the clock.

Even the pros couldn’t make the taming of a 400 pound animal look easy.

Several of the events separated the local riders from the pros and one of the more entertaining events was the local Saddle Bronc riding. Saddle Bronc is similar to bareback, though it  uses a saddle.

Among the competitors, only one woman rode. She fell hard out of the gate, but received loud applause from the audience for her willingness to compete in the male-dominated event.

Barrel racing was the only women-only event at the rodeo.The competitors race around three barrels and try to get the fastest time. The command the riders had over their horses was truly impressive.

The most unique event by far was the Wild Cow Milking. One rider tracked down and roped the cow, the next ran from the center of the arena and tried to hold the cow steady. The rider must then get off their horse and attempt to milk the very agitated animal and run it over to the judge. As long as a single drop came out, they get a score.

These were not gentle cows. While trying to hold the cows, the cowboys got kicked, pushed around and smacked in the jaw.

The final event of the day was also the main event. It’s the toughest eight seconds in sports- bull riding. This is the only event where all the competitors are fully padded up, as injury is very common.

There were many hard falls and near-goings, but, luckily the day concluded with no serious injury.

The crowd was loud all day and everyone seemed to leave the rodeo satisfied.

The next event at the rodeo grounds is the 47th Annual Junior Rodeo in August. Though they aren’t pros, admission and parking are free and the beer is cheap.

It’s as they say: everyone’s got a country side; sometimes it just takes a rodeo to bring it out.