Kate Mendonsa competes at calf roping at the San Benito County Rodeo at Bolado Park on June 24. Photo: Chris Mora

For the first time in its 89-year history, the San Benito County Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo hosted a sellout crowd in the 3,000-plus seat Bolado Park arena, according to organizers. 

The show and rodeo took place this past weekend, June 23-25, in Tres Pinos. Friday’s events were close to being sold out, while on Saturday and Sunday, no tickets were available by the time the festivities started, according to David Westrick, President of the Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo board. 

Every year, the rodeo organizers strive to bring something unique and more exciting to the events than the year prior. For the 2023 rodeo, Westrick said, “We decided we wanted to bring the best fan experience possible, (and) make sure everybody had something they could enjoy that might be different.”

That included a “very large” outdoor vendor area as well as a Western Tack Show, where attendees could browse and shop for art and merchandise. This year’s events also included more food and beverage vendors than previous annual rodeos in San Benito County. 

Another highlight of this year’s rodeo was the inaugural Robert Postigo Special Rodeo, which took place on Saturday morning at the Bolado Park arena. The Special Rodeo was created to allow children with disabilities to perform in rodeo events in front of the sold-out crowd. Westrick said the rodeo association supplied their announcers, rodeo clown and volunteers to run the Special Rodeo.

New for this year’s rodeo was the Robert Postigo Special Rodeo for children with disabilities. The Special Rodeo took place June 24 at Bolado Park. Photo: Chris Mora

About 20 kids participated in the Special Rodeo, which was produced in conjunction with Coopers Calling, a Tres Pinos nonprofit that provides equine therapy for children with special needs. The rodeo board also gave the attendees and their parents free tickets to the rodeo.

“It was so cool seeing these big tough rodeo guys and gals interacting with these special kids,” Westrick said. 

The San Benito County rodeo hosts a full slate of typical rodeo events, but unique to the local competition is its adherence to the traditional “vaquero” or Spanish cowboy roots, Westrick added. Competitors are judged not only on their performance in the various events, but also on the authenticity of their tack and attire. 

Events at the San Benito County Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo include keyhole race, barrel race, steer stopping, figure-8 roping, team roping, steer wrestling, wild horse race and more, in divisions that include junior, senior, ladies and open. 

The all-around winners for the 2023 San Benito County Rodeo are Kodi Fowles, Junior Track; Lillian Mendonsa, Junior Arena; John Flook, Senior Track; and Tristan Schmidt, Senior Arena. 

To see a complete list of winners for all Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo events, visit tinyurl.com/2p8vhhpy

Fiddler Dan Lynch performs between events at the 2023 San Benito County Rodeo. Photo: Chris Mora
Ashley Fairhurst and Cheyenne Rey compete in the Dally Team Roping contest at the 2023 San Benito County Rodeo at Bolado Park. Photo: Chris Mora
Photo: Chris Mora
Photo: Chris Mora
Photo: Chris Mora
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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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