With attendance far beyond its organizers’ expectations, Madera County’s first-ever professional rodeo came to Coarsegold last weekend and delighted crowds with spills and thrills.
The Coarsegold Stampede, sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association held Sept. 17 and 18 at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, was praised by attendees as a monumental success.
“I believe this is a tremendous moment for people to see such reinvigoration,” said Frank Bigelow, State Assemblyman from O’Neals wearing his signature cowboy hat. “This professional rodeo sets a standard here in the community that hasn’t been seen, ever. It’s an exciting time.”
“I tell you what, this is big,” added Pat Hill, former head coach of Fresno State football. “Hopefully it gets even bigger next year. We’ll be coming back, for sure.”
High purses were up for grabs in events such as bull riding and barrel racing, alongside a large petting zoo, face painting, and mutton busting, won by Rider Bolding, who turned 7 on Sunday.
“This was a lot of fun,” 11-year-old Hailey Anderson said when the rodeo wrapped up Sunday afternoon. “I really liked watching riders on the broncs. You could tell it was different from other rodeos I’ve seen here.”
Tanner Tweed, son of Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds owner Kevin Tweed, said that theme of building on the Coarsegold Rodeo, a more localized event held each May since 1952, will continue next year.
“We’ll have a year to plan instead of three months,” Tweed laughed. “We’re going to look for bigger sponsors and much more activities here. We didn’t have time to reach out to everyone so now we’ll have time to do so.”
Tweed estimated some 2,500 to 3,500 people attended the event.
“In all honesty, we’re shocked,” Tweed said. “We hoped for the best and got more than that. I think overall, this was a tremendous success.”
Tweed thanked all attendees, the volunteer committee of around 20 community members who met every week to plan the event, as well as numerous more volunteers including students from Minarets and Yosemite High Schools he said were key to making the rodeo a hit.
“Those kids came out here and killed it,” Tweed said. “They came out here and worked for hours to get a lot cleaned up. They really did more than they were asked to do. So to see that is great.”
Proceeds from the rodeo benefited Infant of Prague Adoption Services, who helped Tanner as well as his brother and sister be adopted by the Tweeds.
NOTE: Additional photos can be seen at www.facebook.com/jakekoenenphotography.