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A San Benito County Tradition Returns to Rodeo Parade

Downtown Hollister was full of excitement and livestock Saturday morning as locals gathered to celebrate the return of the Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo Parade.
Miss San Benito Rodeo 2017 Corissa King and newly crowned 2018 Queen Kelsee French, waving to the crowd.
The Downtown Parade was held in honor of Sandy Rose.
Pat Ricotti and Elliott French showcasing their “bucking tractor”.
Mark Costa towing a historic sheepherder trailer.

At times, horses and cattle appeared to outnumber people at the 2018 San Benito County Horse Show and Rodeo Parade as they passed through downtown Hollister on June 16.

The parade is the kick-off to a week of festivities leading up to the 85th Annual Rodeo from June 22 to June 24 at Bolado Park in Tres Pinos.

Thousands of people crowded the streets as elaborate floats, horsemen, and horsewomen passed by on their steeds. The parade celebrated local Western heritage by traveling the one-mile route starting at Haydon and San Benito streets. 

The parade has been part of the San Benito Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo since the 1920s. Excited to see cattle, horses, and old-time vehicles, spectators from all over San Benito County dusted off their cowboy hats and boots to marvel at the event.

Local ranchers Frank O’Connell (of Rancher's Feed), Wyatt, Lacy, Braydee, and Emett Bourdet drove a herd of 20 longhorn cattle through downtown Hollister. For a few moments, the cattle drive made San Benito Street look like a scene from a classic Western movie.

"Seeing the long horns walking down main street was a surreal feeling," said Corissa King, Miss San Benito Rodeo Queen 2017. "I never thought that I would see long horns walking through Hollister. I thought that was only something I would see in Fort Worth.”

The driving of cattle into and through towns as part of commodity trading has been part of western heritage since the Spaniards introduced livestock to the continent. At one point in time, there were stockyards in Hollister near where the San Benito Foods tomato cannery is today.  Before the invention of the large cattle trucks that would come directly to the cattle ranches, this was a shipping point where ranchers could send and receive livestock.  

People riding the decorative floats made by a variety of San Benito County organizations gave smiles, waves, and “yeehaws” to the crowd. Marching bands from high schools across the area, flanked by dance teams and color guards, filled the parade with music as spectators danced to the beat.

Several local businesses, nonprofits, youth groups, and individual entries were among parade participants.

“Having the parade back in downtown this year was great,” said Kerry Tobias, San Benito County Saddle Horse Show Board volunteer. “We had over 80 volunteers come out to help support the parade.”

The crowd roared at cowboys Pat Ricotti and Elliott French, who showcased their “bucking tractor." French portrayed the old-time bronc rider as Ricotti made the tractor buck. This equipment was rebuilt as a tribute to the memory of a well-liked local cowboy named Bob Hansen.

“I think it is wonderful to have it back!" said Becky Doty, participants on the Sandy Rose Memorial float. "Such a thoughtful way to remember Sister Sandy. I loved the cattle drive as well.”

The downtown parade was held in honor of Sandy Rose, an outstanding horsewoman and community leader. Rose, a successful businesswoman, was one of the first women to make a place for herself in local clubs and organizations that had previously been all male membership. 

To learn more about the upcoming San Benito Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo, visit


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bstrohn's picture
Blaire Strohn (bstrohn)

Blaire Strohn is a graduate student at Oklahoma State University focusing on International Agriculture. Blaire also graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture Communications. Born and raised on a cow/calf operation ranch in Paicines, she is passionate about the agriculture community and western way of life.


What a wonderful parade I'm so sorry that I missed it as I was at Bolado park watching the memorial roping event... I am hoping that these events will not be on the same day or the same time next year so that we can  enjoy both of them... thank you to everyone who put on both events ... see you at the rodeo...Ardyss

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