gmhTODAY 20 gmhToday June July 2018 - Page 55

Bringin’ it Back! I t’s been 42 years since Gilroy hosted a rodeo. In its heyday the Gilroy Gymkhana attracted top rodeo competitors and thousands of enthusiasts. Like all good things, this rodeo is making a comeback. According to Eric Martin, who is spear- heading event planning and preparation, this summer’s event will celebrate the multi-cultural western heritage that runs deep in Santa Clara County. Dozens of volunteers are working together to make it happen. “We’re bringing back the spirit of ‘cross ranch rodeo,’” Martin said, “with a mix of traditional rodeo events and ranch events.” “It’s about keeping tradition alive and honoring South County’s agriculture and ranching lifestyle. There’ll be something for everyone to enjoy. Great riding, roping, and barrel racing. Great food and wine, music and dancing, a hayride, and other events for people to participate in, not just be spectators.” The first day’s primary focus is traditional CCPRA-sanctioned Rodeo Events for serious competitors. CCPRA (California Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association) is the state’s leading rodeo organization. Its members are cowboys, cowgirls, clowns, bullfighters, judges, and people who manage rodeo events. Most work day jobs to pay for their rodeo passion. Justin Fields, a local fifth-generation rancher, is Chair of the Ranch Events, which will be held both days and include ranch hand and horseman- ship demonstrations. “We have lots of FFA, 4H Club, and high school rodeo riders in the community,” Martin said. “Junior rodeo events will give them a chance to compete here while their families cheer them on. High school volunteers will also help with the young kids. For them we’ll have a kids’ rodeo and a petting zoo.” The rodeo is slated for the 55-acre Furtado Ranch, established as a dairy cattle operation in the 1960s and now held in a family trust. Eric Martin is married to original owner Bill Furtado’s granddaughter Kendra. “Bill was a huge supporter in Gilroy, always welcoming immigrants who came here to live and work. Sadly, he passed away last year and won’t get to see this rodeo.” Martin hinted that the rodeo would have a little intrigue this year. “A statue of World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Casey Tibbs and his horse War Paint was installed on top of the James Ellis Building in the 1950s. But when the Hall family sold that building in 2008, the statue disappeared. Rumor has it that Tibbs and War Paint might make an appearance at the Gilroy Rodeo.” For the first-time rodeo attendee, it’s a world unto its own, and chock full of cowboy lingo. According to Martin, “Remember in the old spaghetti westerns, when actors called each other buckaroo? Well, that was just a bunch of green horn American cowboys trying to pronounce the word vaquero!” Gilroy Rodeo is a nonprofit organization. Visit Good old-fashioned fun at the rodeo in 1955. The Gilroy Gymkhana Hoosegow with a young boy peering out from behind bars. If caught, rodeo attendees not wearing western wear had a choice: do the time or pay the fine! Photos taken on Monterey Street in Gilroy, CA. Photo courtesy of Gilroy Rodeo. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JUNE/JULY 2018 55