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May 13, 2014 > Rodeo brings back the Wild West

Rodeo brings back the Wild West

By Sara Giusti

While we may not think of the San Francisco Bay Area as the Wild West in classic terms much anymore, a longstanding tradition brings back Californias cowboy roots every third week in May. Rowell Ranch, between Dublin and Castro Valley, is preparing for its annual Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo, a weekend full of the Cowboy Experience, barbecue, live music, and the Grand Entry Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo. It is one of the oldest rodeos in the nation, and the longest continuous rodeo in the Bay Area.

In the early 1800s, rancher Don Guillermo Castro presented the first rodeos in the Hayward area each spring; it was a chance for native cowboys, both Native American and Mexican, to showcase their skills. Following a hiatus, rancher, businessman, and philanthropist Harry Rowell brought back the sport of rodeo in 1921; Harry was actually English, but fell in love with California.

Rowells rodeos began in downtown Hayward, eventually moving to his own ranch in 1925. He became a figurehead in the rodeo community, providing livestock to the Bay Areas first Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace in 1941. After Harrys death, his wife Maggie allowed Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) to purchase the ranch and continue its rodeo tradition. Both Harry and Maggie were posthumously inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in 1985.

Events scheduled leading up to the rodeo finale include a Celebrity Team Penning, a Cowgirl Picnic, Team Roping, a RockinÕ Bull Bash and Wild Cow Milking, barbecue, and live music performances from bands The California Cowboys and Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Drifters.

Over the weekend, the rodeo will feature ÒCowboy ExperienceÓ, a kid-friendly event to provide information about rodeos. Each day of the Pro Rodeo has its own special theme as well. On Saturday, May 17, help Rowell Ranch honor members of the U.S. Armed Services for Armed Services Day, and wear pink to support the fight against breast cancer for ÒTough Enough to Wear PinkÓ on Sunday, May 18.

Crowds of 20,000 to 25,000 rodeo-lovers are expected throughout the week and weekend, with 300 participants in the rodeo. This yearÕs rodeo also marks a special occasion: the Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo is being nominated into the ÒClass of 2014Ó inductees of The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO.

Whether cowboy, cowgirl, or just a fan, the Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo is an excellent way to appreciate Western history and lifestyle while having fun.

Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo
Wednesday, May 14 Ð Sunday, May 18
Rowell Ranch
9711 Dublin Canyon Road, Castro Valley
(510) 581-2577

Event schedule:

Celebrity Team Penning, BBQ, and The California Cowboys
Wednesday, May 14
3:00 p.m.: Contestant check-in; 4:00 p.m. start
BBQ and music immediately following event
Team Penning free
Tickets for BBQ and music: $20

Cowgirl Picnic (Ladies Only Luncheon)
Thursday, May 15
11:00 a.m. Ð 1:00 p.m.
Rowell Ranch: Earl Dawes Picnic Area
Tickets: Advance, $40

Team Roping
Thursday, May 15
5:00 p.m.

RockinÕ Bull Bash, Wild Cow Milking, and Wolf Hamlin & the Front Porch Drifters
Friday, May 16
5:30 p.m.: Gates open
7:30 p.m.: Bull riding and music
Tickets: $16 general admission; $14 seniors and children under 12

Pro Rodeo - Armed Services Day (Day 1)
Saturday, May 17
10:00 a.m.: Gates open
10:30 a.m.: Special Partners event
11:00 a.m.: Cowboy Experience
1:30 p.m.: Grand Entry Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo
5:00 p.m.: Tri-Tip BBQ with live music from The California Cowboys
Tickets: $16 general admission; $14 seniors and children under 12; $20 reserved seating; $40 family package (2 adults and 2 children)

Pro Rodeo - Tough Enough to Wear Pink (Day 2)
Sunday, May 18
10:00 a.m.: Gates open
11:00 a.m.: Cowboy Experience
1:30 p.m.: Grand Entry Rowell Ranch Pro Rodeo
Tickets: $16 general admission; $14 seniors and children under 12; $20 reserved seating; $40 family package (2 adults and 2 children)

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