The Wrangler Country Rodeo by Hearst will return for this year’s California Mid-State Fair with a significant increase in cash prizes for its contestants.
Sponsorships from Wranglers, Hearst and American Riviera Bank helped increase monetary prizes for the contestants. First-place winners in all competitions will be rewarded with $1,000 and a trophy belt buckle.
WCR also added Double Mugging to it’s lineup this year. The popular competition involves two steers instead of one which causes the four-man team to split into two groups to wrangle the animals. With the addition of Double Mugging, the rodeo now holds 14 separate competitions that include Penning, Barrel Racing, Ranch Rope and Branding, Mixed Ribbon Roping and Match Roping. All competitors that placed in multiple contests automatically get entered into the All-Around Finals that goes to the contestant for the most points scored overall in the competition. The winner will receive an additional $1000 prize and a trophy belt buckle, not to mention bragging rights for the entire year.
Ann Hansen, Vice President and Commercial/Agribusiness Banking Officer for American Riviera Bank, said that the bank began supporting the fair in 2018. Based in Santa Barbara, ARB branched out to open a full-service office in San Luis Obispo County last year, a feat that Hansen was instrumental in accomplishing. The bank also provides clerking support for the Junior Livestock Auction and the Heifer resale. Hansen said that she knows the fair operates with a lot of overhead costs but thinks it is wonderful that it has the ability to pay more funds to the rodeo’s participants.
In addition to all the roping, riding and rassling, rodeo fans will be treated to specialty acts throughout the competition. The Flying U Rodeo Company will entertain the crowd with its “Dancing with Bulls” competition. Also featured will be Blind Man’s Bull Poker where brave souls play poker in the ring as a raging bull stomps around with the last one sitting at the poker tables winning the game. Kids will have an opportunity to sign up for the Mutton Busting competition where the miniature cowboys and cowgirls will test their nerve and skills riding wild and ferocious sheep.
Matt Merritt, the exclusive entertainer of the PBR Velocity Tour, will grace the stadium with his presence. Known for his dancing skills, Merritt loves to create an atmosphere that’s fun for the audience.
A country rodeo differs from the pro circuit Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) where cowboys purchase a card and compete on a national level. The country rodeos are for locals who wish to participate but do not want to make a career out of the circuit lifestyle.
San Luis Obispo County has its share of local cowboy stars. At the writing of this article, Lane Karney of Creston ranked 17 in the 2019 PRCA Ram World Standings for All-Around and 38 for Team Roping (Headers). His younger brother, Taylor Santos, sat in the top 10 as ranked 9 in the Tie-Down Roping competition. At the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo earlier this summer, Santos won the two-head tie-down roping with a 19.0 seconds average. If he holds his position, Santos will be eligible to compete in the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas this December. San Luis Obispo’s Jason Johe was listed at position 37 for Team Roping (Heelers) competition.
“That would be a dream come true to make the NFR, not only for me but for my family,” Santos told PRCA’s Tracy Renck. “Ever since we were little my mom would take us to the junior rodeos and drive all night and get us home so we could be at school the next morning. I’ve put a lot into it to try and get to the NFR, but I can’t thank my mom enough.”
Tickets for the Rodeo Finals on Saturday, July 27 are on sale now. Admission is $20 for anyone 13 and older and $10 for children 12 and younger. Admission will go up to $25 the day of the event so advanced purchase is recommended. Purchase tickets online at midstatefair.com or by calling 1-800-909-FAIR.
The 2019 California Mid-State Fair begins Wednesday, July 17 and runs through Sunday, July 28. This year’s theme is “Let’s Have S’More Fun!”