Over the last weekend in June, clouds of dirt filled the air as contestants rode their trusty steeds in the arena at Bolado Park, which meant one thing: the 86th annual San Benito County Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo was in full swing.
The hometown rodeo is a family affair as parents and their kids compete in the arena or watch from the grandstands. There were just over 300 entries at this year’s event.
The show began in 1929 as a weekend of fun and challenge for hard-working cowboys and ranch hands. Organized by a group of local businessmen, community leaders, and prominent ranchers, the rodeo has taken place every year except for four years during WW II. The show started with 25 original directors, and that number still oversees the proceedings, as well as the day-to-day operation of the Saddle Horse Show Association.
Cousins Blane Strohn of Kingsburg and Craig Slibsager of Hollister partnered this year in the dally team roping to try their hand at the Bob Hanson Memorial buckles. They roped their first steer in 6.78 seconds to lead the pack into the short round on June 30.
“I’ve always wanted to win the team roping here at Bolado,” Strohn said.
Roping comes naturally to this pair. Strohn’s grandpa, Jack Kirby, worked for the Santa Anita Ranch in Tres Pinos for over 40 years. His other grandpa, Jim Strohn, worked for the Appel Ranch in south county. He loved competing in the annual event and even watching his grandchildren from the stands.
On Championship Sunday, Strohn and Slibsager were high team call-backs to the short round. They roped their final steer in a smooth 9.25 seconds to secure the championship buckles.
“This was a special year to win the team roping,” the cousins said.
CJ DeForest won the Senior All-Around Arena award, while Wyatt Bourdet was the Senior All-Around Track Award winner.
Among the youth competitors, Emery Pura won the Junior All-Around Track award, while Brooklyn Anderson took home the Junior All-Around Arena award. This year’s 2019 Miss San Benito Rodeo is Bonnie Mansmith.
For more information about event winners, visit https://sanbenitocountyrodeo.com/compete/2019-results/.
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