Steinbeck's Salinas has a Rodeo!

"It's not my first Rodeo."

First of all, may I inform you that this Salinas event is known as the "Ro-Day-O" to the locals. If you mosey on in thinking you are at a "Ro-De-O', you'd be misinformed. I spent my high school years growing up among the green produce fields of the Salinas valley and seen my share of Rodeos. I was in a singing group that performed the national anthem one year, another year I worked parking cars and selling sodas in the stands. I've marched in the Como del Rodeo parade with my high school marching band. I've enjoyed it so much, that I return home to Salinas with my kids in July to expose them to the great experience within the walls of the Salinas Sports Complex.

  • Bull Riding -- Rider tries to stay on a large bull for 8 seconds without being thrown off.
  • Barrel Racing -- usually a women's event, a rider takes her horse through a clover-leaf pattern of barrels in the fastest time
  • Mutton Busting -- Children try to ride on the back of a unshorn sheep as long as possible.
  • Calf Roping -- Timed event for a rider to catch a calf by lasso, dismount the horse, and restrain the calf by tying three legs together.
  • Trick Riding -- brave riders perform acrobatic stunts such as handstands on the back of a galloping horse.
  • Team Roping -- Two riders work together to catch a steer from horseback. The "header" ropes the steer, then the "heeler" catches it's legs.

Highlights of the day

The Salinas sports complex has three grandstands facing the main arena. It is worth the extra money to be in the main grandstands behind the box seats. Most of the seats are covered from the sun and gives a frontal view of all the action.

One of my favorite parts is the "Parade of Flags" which opens the day's events. Riders on galloping horses enter the arena with flags as the history of California is announced. The national anthem is sung and white doves are released. The games begin!

Salinas is known as being one of the larger rodeos, so it is truly the best of the best. The action is well planned and moves quickly. There are usually two or three events happening simultaneously. As team roping is happening in the main arena, there might be a horse race or mutton busting happening on the track.

Other events in years past include:

  • a foal and mare horse race . . . which baby can find their mama the fastest!
  • Steer dressing . . . a group of three men try to catch a calf and put a pair of trousers on it the fastest.
  • Freelance clown and bull . . . those crazy clowns attract charging bulls and show off their skill to avoid the horns!

Salinas, California

What did you think of the California Rodeo?

  • Loved it! We are coming back next year.
  • We wear sneakers, not boots. Y'all have fun without us next year.
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More to See & Do!

When in Salinas, stop by these other local sites;

  • National Steinbeck Center. One Main Street, Salinas. In the heart of Oldtown Salinas, this museum captures the writings of local author, John Steinbeck through galleries of photos, film clips, interactive exhibits and artifacts.
  • Steinbeck House. 132 Central Avenue, Salinas. The boyhood Victorian home of John Steinbeck is now a restaurant with a charming gift shop in the cellar.
  • Three hats in Sherwood Park. Just south of the Rodeo grounds stands three big hats, thought to be in "three stages of landing" like a cowboy hat was tossed toward the Rodeo grounds.

Things to bring

For Kids
For Safety
For Fun
Money for Kid Corral activities
money for vendors & food
jacket for evening
"Courage is being scared to death but saddlin' up anyway." -John Wayne

Shopping & Parking


There is parking on site on the north end of the Sports complex in a grass area for $20.00 per car. Local businesses and churches sometimes offer their lots for a lesser fee ($10.00 or less) and the neighborhood across North Main is free, but quite a walk.


Inside the rodeo grounds are the enticing smells of BBQ; ribs, turkey leg and corn on the cob. Vendors walk the stands selling cotton candy, peanuts, cold drinks and such. There is a beer garden as well.

Vendors sell purses, reins, chaps, cowboy hats, boots, wallets and other leather wear. Face painting, a petting zoo and souviner stands are in the kid corral for lil' wranglers. You can purchase what we locals used to call a "Senior Lopez" pullover sweater made cotton and acrylic in bright colors and stripes.

Local bands play country music that invite you to dance a step or two. Photographic moments are abundant.

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