Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo returns with new activities

RIDE ‘EM The San Benito County Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo gets underway June 28. File photo

San Benito County residents are ready to kick up their boots once again at the 86th Annual San Benito County (SBC) Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo, running from Friday, June 28 to Sunday, June 30.

The county’s unofficial kick-off to summer has taken locals back to the early days of San Benito since 1929 (ceasing operation from 1942-45 during World War II), and locals still find the same old-time competition continues today.

Ross Rianda, president of the SBC Saddle Horse Association Board, said locals can expect the same kind of entertainment and small-town comradery this year.

“This is a local event, just San Benito County residents; it’s kind of a unique deal,” he said. “I think it’s more of a social event than an actual horse show and rodeo. If people expect to see a professional rodeo that they see on television, that’s not what they’re going to see out here. But they’re going to see a good competition.”

And they’ll experience some great pre-rodeo events as well.

Saturday, June 22 will kick off these events in Hollister with a breakfast served in front of Hollister Veterans’ Memorial Building at 649 San Benito St. The cost per breakfast is $15.

At 11am, the Saddle Horse Show Parade will get underway on San Benito Street, starting at the intersection of Haydon Street and finishing on Fifth Street.

More than 50 community entries are expected to be in the parade, including marching bands, floats, horsemen and horsewomen, the 2019 Miss San Benito County Rodeo, as well as many community groups.

Hollister Concerts at Pepper Tree Ranch, 500 John Smith Road, will finish the day’s kick-off with a concert by The Long Run and Neon Circus. Miss San Benito County Rodeo, who will be announced on June 15, will also be introduced during the concert.

“We try to coordinate with the saddle horse show (and) make that community connection,” said Al Guerra, owner of Hollister Concerts.

The SBC Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo begins on Friday, June 28 at Bolado Park & Event Center at 9000 Airline Highway in Tres Pinos.  

Charlie Tobias, a director on the Saddle Horse Association Board, encourages families to come out and see such events as the cattle sorting (three-man teams), the family team roping or the kids’ events such as the ribbon race.

“Bolado Park is such a nice location to come and enjoy the show and see many of our community members participating,” Tobias said.

While every weekend morning begins with roping and sorting events (free to the public), the vendors of the Western Art & Tack Show will begin selling at 3pm, leading into an evening of food and entertainment.

Rebecca Wolf, also a director on the board, said this year’s food choices have been changed up from past events.

“We’re doing something different, and I think it will be exciting because people have become real foodies,” Wolf said. “So we’re trying to have different people out there.”

Before the show begins at 7pm that evening, wine and beer tasting will be offered to the public, starting at 4:30pm.  

“We will have Martin Pulido playing that night. And we have beef and pork sliders, and sweet potato fries from our caterer, Jimmy’s Watering Hole,” added Wolf, noting its the first time the SBC Saddle Horse Show will feature the Paso Robles caterer. “The Hollister Rotary will be serving beer, wine, soft drinks and water during the show, and then we have food trucks this year.”

Wolf said Louie’s Smokey Trails, Ohana’s Shave Ice and We’ll Cook For You (which features typical fair food, from hamburgers to funnel cakes) are a part of the food line-up.

“For $25, you get five tastings and two sliders for the event,” she said.

The show begins at 1:30pm on Saturday, June 29, and Wolf suggested guests arrive earlier to partake in food and socializing.

“We’d love people to come early, come around noon,” she said. “A lot of people are milling around, you can get breakfast from Jimmy’s Watering Hole, or you can get your lunch and can eat it out front, then go into the show.”

After the show, guests are invited to attend a steak barbecue, as well as a silent and live auction fundraiser. The cost is $25 per person and $8 per child.

“The Aromas Quarry Boys are providing entertainment,” Wolf said. “They’re terrific. They play fiddles, banjos and guitars, and sing old Western music to bluegrass to everything. So it will be fun this year.”

The weekend will culminate on Sunday, June 30, with Stock Horse Class Eliminations at 8am, the Western Art & Tack Show at 11am and a show at 1:30pm.

Wolf said visitors can expect to see more than just entertaining shows this year.

A newly remodeled Saddle Horse Show museum for guests to peruse will be located at the south end of the grandstands. The extended museum is “wonderful to come out and see,” Wolf said.

A real stagecoach will be on the premises, provided by Mark Page of Sonora.

“We’re going to try to have rides on the stagecoach,” Wolf said. “And he also has a chuckwagon that was used in the movies and on [the television show] ‘Big Valley.’ That will be staged out front as well.”

Admission to the San Benito County Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo is $10 for adults and $7 for children (11 years and younger); parking is free. Admission to the Western Art & Tack Show is free. For information on events and times, visit or call 831.628.3545.

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