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Santa Maria Elks ramping up for 77th annual Rodeo and Parade

Santa Maria Elks ramping up for 77th annual Rodeo and Parade

There are 77 days until the Santa Maria Elks 77th annual Rodeo and Parade four-day weekend kicks off on Thursday, May 28.

On Wednesday, the Elks Recreation Committee held its rodeo kickoff media day.

“First thing, let’s address the elephant in the room — coronavirus,” said Elks Rodeo Media Director Johnna Clark. “Will the rodeo go on as planned? Absolutely.

“The rodeo is still a couple months away and we don’t know what the situation will be at the time. Obviously we’re monitoring the situation and are taking all the recommended precautions. We’re working with government agencies so that we can make sure everyone is safe. It’s our 77th year. We’re hoping it’s lucky double-sevens.”

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Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, back row, left, joins Elks Recreation officers and local business leaders Wednesday at the Elks Rodeo kickoff press conference.

As is the tradition, the rodeo will kick off with the Minetti Mini Rodeo, a Thursday morning performance featuring local school children competing for championship buckles in front of an audience of over 6,000 local school children, mostly third graders from Goleta to Arroyo Grande.

The professionals take over Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights before wrapping up with an afternoon matinee on Sunday, May 31.

The Minetti Mini Rodeo is just one of many events in which local people of all ages can compete.

Registration is now open for Miss Mini Rodeo, Miss Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, Junior Barrelman, Mutton Bustin’, Beard-A-Reno, Stick Horse Racing, Elks Team Roping, the Kids and Cowboys Golf Tournament, Central Coast Kids Got Talent and Sponsor Flag Tryouts.

Entries are also being taken for the Minetti Mini Rodeo qualifier that will be held at the Elks Unocal Event Center on Sunday, April 20.

“Last year, the WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) added women’s breakaway roping and we had a ton of local girls and women in the competition,” said Elks Rec Chief Operations Officer Tina Tonascia. “This year, they’ve said that only women 18-years-old and up can compete so we’ll take the top 12 finishers at the Minetti qualifier and have a special 17-and-under breakaway competition as part of the rodeo.”

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Colton Farquer gets ready to rope a calf during last year's Elks Rodeo.

The top five in each event at the qualifier come back for their buckle runs during the Mini Rodeo.

The Rodeo Queen kickoff dinner is set for Saturday, April 18, when all the candidates will meet the public for the first time.

All the local high schools will once again participate in the Army Push Up Challenge. The finalists will face off on opening night with the winner’s school receiving a $500 donation to their athletic department.

There are two new queen entries this year. St. Joseph High School and SAVE Five Cities Performing Arts will join returning queen candidates from VTC Enterprises, Santa Maria Noontime Kiwanis, the Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe and NSBCD United Way.

“And for the fourth year, we’ll have our Golden Circle of Champions,” said Tonascia. “We’ll bring in 25 families with children who are battling cancer. We’re trying to do everything we can to bring awareness to pediatric cancer and through our Cowboy-Up Casino auction and fundraiser, we hope to raise enough money to donate $1,000 to each family to help them with their expenses.”

Old favorites will be back.

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Mason Mardesich gets bucked of his horse during saddle bronc at last year's Santa Maria Elks Rodeo.

The legendary Cotton Rosser, his son Reno and daughter Cindy will be bringing in the rough stock.

Bob Tallman and Wayne Brooks return as the announce team but there will be a new man in the can.

Matt Merritt will be this year’s rodeo clown and barrelman.

“Justin Rumford isn’t making a West Coast swing this year and we’re lucky to get Matt,” said Tonascia. “He’s the official clown of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Tour. People are going to love him.

For more information or entry forms, contact Elks Recreation at (805) 925-4125, stop by their new office at 2325 Skyway, Suite H, or go online to


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