San Benito Lifestyle

Parade kicks off San Benito County rodeo festivities

A herd of longhorns leads dozens of parade participants.
2019 Miss San Benito Rodeo Bonnie Mansmith waves at the crowd.
Derek Lacasa and Pat Ricotti entertain the crowd on their bucking tractor. Photo by Blaire Strohn.
Derek Lacasa and Pat Ricotti entertain the crowd on their bucking tractor. Photo by Blaire Strohn.
Tuffy Gessling herding his flock of sheep.

Horses, cattle and tractors lined downtown Hollister streets at the 2019 San Benito County Horse Show and Rodeo Parade on June 22. 

The parade kicked-off a week of festivities leading up to the 86th Annual Saddle Horse & Rodeo, a three-day event starting June 28 at Bolado Park in Tres Pinos. The parade has been part of the San Benito Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo since the 1920s.

Hundreds of people lined the streets as elaborate floats, horsemen and horsewomen passed by on their trusty steeds. The parade celebrated local Western heritage by traveling the one-mile route on San Benito Street between Haydon and Fifth streets.

It was led by local ranchers Frank O’Connell (of Rancher’s Feed), along with Wyatt, Lacy, Braydee and Emett Bourdet, who drove a herd of longhorn cattle through downtown Hollister. 

Before livestock was transported directly to cattle ranches on large trucks, stockyards located near where the San Benito Foods tomato cannery is today were used as shipping points where ranchers could send and receive animals.  

Representatives of a variety of organizations smiled and waved to the crowd while marching bands, dance teams and color guards entertained the crowd as they danced. Several local merchants including Tiffany Ford and Don Chapin Company joined other participants including youth folklorico groups, girl scouts, San Benito High School Associated Student Body, and youth football teams.  

Parade attendees gave a collective “Awww” as rodeo clown Tuffy Gessling “herded” a flock of sheep with his two border collies, Bindy and Nann.

And the crowd roared on as local cowboys Pat Ricotti and Derek Lacasa showcased their bucking tractor. Lacasa was the saddle-bronc buckaroo as Ricotti made the tractor buck. 


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


Blaire Strohn

Blaire Strohn was a popular and vivacious reporter for BenitoLink. Blaire passed away Sept. 25, 2019 after doing her best for years to heroically ignore the limitations of Cystic Fibrosis. Despite these challenges, she was 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, Blaire was passionate about the agriculture community and western way of life.