ELKS RODEO WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 2019 | santamariatimes.com | SECTION A
COVER Photographer Matt Cohen captures Santa Maria Elks Rodeo images for ProRodeo Sports News
One of the best rodeo photographers on site at the 76th Santa Maria Elk Rodeo didn’t grow up in the sport. He’s not a cowboy, mud doesn’t run through his veins, and heck, he didn’t even learn to ride a horse until last year. But Matt Cohen’s photos are making the circuit, including an action-packed, snortin’ bull shot on the cover of ProRodeo Sports News, January edition. “It’s been a tough ride getting into rodeo. There was a way rodeo was shot for years, and I shoot it differently,” Cohen said. The San Francisco Bay-based sports photographer has shot plenty of baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey and tennis, but he’s specialized in rodeo since catching the bug from a pro rodeo poster at his neighborhood Jamba Juice. “I’d been shooting high school sports and whatever I could get into. When I saw the poster, I called my editor and asked to shoot it for one night. It was something different for the website I worked for that covered San Francisco news and events,” Cohen said. But that single-night assignment wasn’t enough. “I fell in love with it from that first night. I went back the next seven nights on my own,” Cohen said. He laughed as he recalled those early days. “I didn’t know the difference between bareback and saddle bronc, the difference between tie-down and team roping. I didn’t get any of that at all,” Cohen said. It took him four years and a fair bit of hazing before he gained enough knowledge and made enough Please see COHEN, Page A11
Blaine Tibbals / 3812 Kaui of Flying U, Santa Maria 2018. MATT COHEN
Stay in touch andwithupdate our VIP program by texting wildflowers to 80258
(Standard text messaging rates may apply)
An eclectic blend of fashion & accessories for women and girls 00 1
LOS OLIVOS 2920 Grand Ave • 805.697.7377 Mon-Sat: 10:30-5:30 • Sun: 11-5
PISMO BEACH 890 Price St • 805-773-1055 Mon-Sat: 10:30-5:30 • Sun: 11-5
ORCUTT 3388 Orcutt Rd • 805.922.9195 Mon-Sat: 10:30-6 • Sun: 11-5
A2 | Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Santa Maria Special Section1
2018 Rodeo royalty represented Santa Maria at events across state JENNIFER BEST
Santa Maria Elks Rodeo introduced its first-ever Miss Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, Miss Mini Rodeo and Junior Barrelman contests last year during the 75th anniversary event. The inaugural winners represented the rodeo at the Minetti Mini Rodeo, Elks Rodeo and Parade and took part in Clown College, mixed with guests at the annual pre-rodeo meet-and-greet, made radio and television appearances and represented Elks Recreation at other rodeo and community events. “They got to go to Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo to support the Golden Circle of Champions. It was fabulous. It was so cool. She had such a good time. They gave her such an opportunity I’ll tell you what,” said Cheri Palin, mother of Miss Mini Rodeo Hannah Palin. Here’s a look at last year’s winners, their year representing the rodeo up and down the state, and their messages to future years’ candidates.
Miss 2018 Santa Maria Rodeo Ashley Singh The 2016 Elks Rodeo Queen, 2017 St. Joseph High School graduate, and soon-to-be Hancock College graduate rounded out her Elks Rodeo honors by winning the first Miss Santa Maria Rodeo contest in 2018, narrowly edging out Santa Maria’s Amanda Silva for the crown. Both young women had represented the rodeo as members of its sponsor flag team—Silva for three years, Singh for six. During the competition, they joined other candidates in demonstrating their personalities, interview skills, and horsemanship skills. When the dust settled, Singh found herself doing double duty, remaining on the sponsor flag team while also carrying out her Miss Elks Rodeo duties. Those duties continued well beyond the June rodeo weekend. Singh represented Santa Maria Elks Rodeo at Salinas Rodeo, Gilroy Rodeo, parades in Salinas, Santa Maria, Los Olivos and Orcutt, and in the Miss Rodeo California competition during California Circuit Finals Rodeo in Lancaster last October. “The whole experience was really rewarding. I got to meet a lot of people from around the state, and it was really cool to see how big the rodeo community is. It’s like a whole new world,” Singh said. And it was a dream come true. “Ever since I was five, I’ve wanted to be in the Miss Rodeo California contest. If you have a passion for horses, a passion for traveling, a passion for exposing your community to new things, I definitely think you should go for it. If you don’t have the rodeo knowledge or rodeo family background — I didn’t — go for it anyway. That passion is all you need to succeed. It’s a huge lifetime opportunity you should take,” Singh said. In the fall, she’ll pack up her self confidence, rodeo experience, and horses and head for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. There she’ll study equine science with her sights set on becoming an equine chiropractor. “Without my horses, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I refuse to leave them behind,” she said.
LEN WOOD STAFF
Hannah Palin, 11, of Orcutt, is introduced as Miss Mini Rodeo 2018, during Media Clown School at the Elks Unocal Event Center. LEN WOOD STAFF
Ashley Singh, 19, of Orcutt, is introduced as Miss Santa Maris Elks Rodeo 2018, during Media Clown School at the Elks Unocal Event Center.
LEN WOOD STAFF
Rodeo clown Justin Rumford and Junior Barrelman Noah Arellano, 7, hang out during the 2018 Media Clown School at the Elks Unocal Event Center.
Miss 2018 Mini Rodeo Hannah Palin
Twelve-year-old Hannah had quite a year as Miss Mini Rodeo. “We were everywhere,” said her mom, Cheri. Hannah was an 11-year-old, fifth-grade student at Alice Shaw Elementary School in Orcutt last year when a combination of her essay, personality and interview skills combined to earn her the recognition. Unlike their elder counterparts, Miss Mini Rodeo candidates were not required to show horsemanship skills. “Oh my goodness! We were all so surprised,” her mother recalled. While serving as Los Amigos 4-H Club reporter, Palin also served throughout the 75th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo’s various events. But the peak of her service year was in representing Santa Maria Elks Rodeo at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. “Helping with the Golden Circle of Champions at the NFR, I got to be with the cancer kids the whole time. It was really fun,” Hannah said. She said the public speaking skills she learned through 4-H presentations helped her when it came time for the competition’s interview process, and she believes the greater audience at the rodeo further strengthened her speaking skills. “I used to think speaking in front of 60 kids at 4-H was a
2019 Miss Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Chelsea Estes.
lot, but it really isn’t that much now that I’ve spoken in front of the entire rodeo. That was thousands of people,” Hannah said. And, sure, she was nervous, Noah Arellano works in the 2018 mutton busting arena. but she said it was entirely worth the nerves. “It’s very important to me because supporting cancer kids is a big thing in our community. The whole experience helped me a lot getting to know a lot more people and finding new friends and getting into all the other rodeo stuff,” Hannah said. She also enjoyed passing the boot in the stands to raise money for pediatric cancer programs. “I’d encourage other people to apply because it helps you with a lot of things in life. It gives you more opportunity to do stuff that’s fun in life. It gives you more confidence about yourself,” Hannah said.
2018 Junior Barrelman Noah Arellano What brings more oohs and ahhhs than a great bronc ride? Try a 7-year-old boy in jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy hat and his own custom barrel. The rodeo’s first junior barrelman, Noah Arellano, offered the total cute factor at the 75th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. While 2019 Miss Mini Rodeo Delanie Singh. his duties didn’t extend beyond rodeo weekend, the Ralph Dunlap Elementary School student was presented with his own custom barrel and poured on the adorable during clown school.
2019 Jr. Barrelman Caleb Moon
Santa Maria Special Section1
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | A3
A4 | Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Santa Maria Special Section1
Snow in the running for National Finals Rodeo Los Olivos cowboy leading Pro Rodeo Tour points race ELLIOTT STERN
Cody Snow is in first and fifth place. The 23-year-old Los Olivos cowboy is currently the leading team roper (header) on the Pro Rodeo Tour. Snow is also fifth in the PRCA/Ram world standings. By either measure – nearly 2,100 Pro Rodeo Tour points and more than $48,000 – Snow is on pace to earn a fourth straight trip to December’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR), where he finished fourth in2018. When professional rodeo’s regular season ends Sept. 30, the top 15 money winners in each event lock in their spots at the NFR. There are still rodeos after the Sept. 30 cutoff, but those results count toward the next season. Many cowboys qualify for the NFR through the Pro Rodeo Tour. The Tour is made up of 55 rodeos, mostly in western states, that began with January’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver and ends with the Tour Final in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 5-8. Cowboys earn both points and dollars on the Pro Rodeo Tour. “So it’s dollar-for-dollar to get to the NFR but the regular season Pro Rodeo Tour now has a points system,” said James Miller in a recent telephone interview. Miller is a member of the PRCA Rodeo Committee Executive Committee and the Director of the Red Bluff Roundup, one of the stops of the Pro Rodeo Tour. “The points change depending on the size of the rodeo, the number of contestants. Cowboys win more points at the larger rodeos.” The 76th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is the 21st stop on the Tour. “That’s why Santa Maria get-
FRANK COWAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Los Olivos cowboy Cody Snow tries to rope a calf during a District 7 high school rodeo in Oct. 2014 at the Elks Unocal Events Center. Snow, now 23, is the leading team roper (header) on the Pro Rodeo Tour and in fourth place in the PRCA world standings.
“That’s why Santa Maria getting included is so important. There are about 600 annual rodeos in the United States. If you’re not a top 55 rodeo, then there’s no reason for cowboys to compete. This means that Santa Maria is a must-attend destination. We’re all really excited they included medium-sized rodeos in their top 55.” -Johnna Clark, the Elks Rodeo media director ting included is so important,” said Johnna Clark, the Elks Rodeo media director at the rodeo kickoff press conference in early February. “There are about 600 annual rodeos in the United States. If you’re not a top 55 rodeo, then there’s no reason for cowboys to compete. This means that Santa Maria is a must-attend destination. We’re all really excited they
included medium-sized rodeos in their top 55.” “The points system should improve the fields at official Tour stops,” said Miller. “You should really see strong fields – the top guys who are trying to earn invitations to Puyallup and improve their chances of making the NFR.” Competitors are trying to be
among the top 24 by the Tour Final. “Only the top 24 (in points) are invited to the Tour Final,” said Miller. “There’s a large sum of money at stake at the Washington State Fair Rodeo in Puyallup. That’s what it’s all about. The cowboys are chasing a lot of money. The Puyallup winners can really give themselves a boost
toward making the NFR.” The farther they go at Puyallup, the more money is at stake. “The competitors will try to get into the top 12 because the last day at Puyallup, a large chunk of money is added to the prize pool,” said Miller. Those cowboys who don’t make it to Puyallup will have to try to make up the money difference somewhere else but there’ll be very few chances left to do that before the regular season ends. “There’s a big money rodeo a week later at Pendleton (Oregon). And there are rodeos in Lewiston (Idaho) and Albuquerque (N.M.) but time is running out,” said Miller.
PRCA, WPRA, Wrangler Network bring more money, higher profile Three rodeo classics will join forces JENNIFER BEST
Aaron Villalobos wins the best dressed buckaroo at the 2018 Elks Rodeo. Wrangler Network will broadcast the 2019 Elks Rodeo worldwide.
Wrangler network broadcasts Elks Rodeo worldwide JENNIFER BEST
A partnership between Wrangler Network and Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is bringing international attention to Santa Maria Valley. For the third consecutive year, the online, streaming rodeo network will feature the Central Coast’s premier rodeo event free for online viewers. “For a rodeo our size to be featured is a huge compliment. We’re very excited to be on their list. Wrangler network is the largest Western lifestyle network that’s still free. They’ve got a ton of viewership, so it enhances our ability to promote our community not only nationwide, but internationally,” said Elks Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Tina Tonascia. WranglerNetwork.com was established as an entirely online network streaming rodeos, coun-
try music, and promoting the traditional Western spirit. Last year, the site had 48 million views. “If you have access to the internet, you can watch any of 140-plus events we stream live, or return to watch them when you have the time,” said Wrangler Network representative Sam Dunn. Videographers will be on site to cover the final two days of the 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. The deal also includes posting content on Wrangler’s social network covering unique events, including the Elks Rodeo Parade and contract acts which may include this year’s rodeo clowns. “We return to Santa Maria because of the tradition and history of that rodeo. It’s a favorite stop for many of the cowboys during the year, and it gives us the opportunity to really highlight the event and also
the community,” Dunn said. The volunteer spirit is a big draw. “It’s also the unique nature of this rodeo with the Elks Club support. There are a number of factors, like those, that make it very attractive for us to showcase this particular event around the world,” Dunn said. Last year, viewers came from more than 45 countries, he added. About 60 percent viewed from mobile phones. “We cover the entire event, from start to finish. Then it immediately goes into an archive for video on demand to give people who are working or traveling, and very much the riders, the opportunity to watch at their leisure,” Dunn said. To view the 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo or to catch last year’s action online, visit http://wranglernetwork.com/events/santa-maria-elks-rodeo/
Three rodeo classics will join forces once again as the 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo welcomes the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to Elks Unocal Event Center. The PRCA tour features just 59 of the more than 600 rodeos held annually across the U.S., and only five of those are in California: Santa Maria, Red Bluff, Salinas, Redding and Clovis. Santa Maria Elks also earned one of just 18 spots on the WPRA Wrangler Network Tour. This new tour with long-standing corporate partner Wrangler will bring additional opportunities for WPRA members to compete for bonus money. “The rodeo committee here is awesome to work with. They treat their contestants very well. They care about the footing. They have a great hospitality tent, and they’ve increased their added money,” said WPRA California Circuit Director Stacey Freitas. Each rodeo performance features seven adrenaline-rushing events including PRCA bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wresting and WPRA barrel racing and breakaway roping. Friday evening’s performance will also include Santa Maria Elks Club’s own team roping as local teams face off with competitors from throughout the West. The Elks’ first-ever WPRA breakaway competition includes 42 entries chasing points on a five-race tour with $15,000 in new bonus money paying five places with the top point earner receiving $5,000. A total of $34,000 is up for grabs in the barrel racing division paying out eight places in the final tour standings with the winner receiving $10,000. Santa Ma-
ria has 79 entries for the barrel race. The Elks Rodeo Committee has upped the ante at Santa Maria, adding $10,000 to the purse for the local barrel and breakaway events combined. PRCA events also offer value-added cash prizes for cowboy events. “We appreciate the Elks taking on this event. There’s a lot more work involved for them. They have to go out and get those calves for the girls to rope. We don’t have a lot of committees banging on the door saying they want to help us grow this event so we can offer it at every rodeo,” Freitas said. The decision wasn’t a hard one, according to Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Tina Tonascia. In 2015, WPRA bestowed the honor of voting Santa Maria Elks Rodeo the Best Medium-sized Rodeo of the Year. In 2017, WPRA provided a grant to Santa Maria Elks Rodeo to study the soil and amend it as needed to provide better footing, particularly for speed events. “They were nervous about amending the soil when they did, just before the rodeo, and I don’t blame them at all. They went out on a limb,” Freitas said. That effort paid off. 2017 WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer and National Finals Rodeo Aggregate Champion Nellie Miller ran a record time on the new footing. And the WPRA members voted Unocal Event Center tops on the California Circuit to win the Justin Best Footing Award. “When you have times that are close, when you have a time like 17.01 win over 17.02, that close together, you know you have a good race and that the ground allowed it,” 00 1 Freitas said.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | A5
Santa Maria Special Section1
� 00 1
A6 | Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Santa Maria Special Section1
Hats off to the dedicated rodeo volunteers A team of 500 do everything from desk duty, garbage pickup to working the soil JENNIFER BEST
The 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo may look like it runs smooth as silk from the pre-rodeo BeardA-Reno through sponsor flag training, rodeo performances and that final margarita, but it takes plenty of wrangling, 500 volunteers and a ton of commitment to pull it off. “‘Volunteer’ isn’t really a good word for what they do. They’re Team Santa Maria. They come together. They work together, and they don’t stop until they’re done. They want to win and be the best that we can be,” said Elks Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Tina
Tonascia. More than 60 committee leaders coordinate some 500 volunteers who offer everything from desk duty to garbage duty, working the bars and working the soil. “And they don’t quit ’til they’ve done their job and done it the best they possibly can. It’s not the quantity of volunteers we have, but the quality,” Tonascia said. Sure, every organization touts its volunteers, and you might think Tonascia is just trying to keep them happy with her kind words, but she speaks with such passion about the people who help create this epic event that it’s clear: there just aren’t enough words to express her admiration for them. “I’ve had the privilege and honor to attend a number of rodeos these past few years and there are no volunteers who hold a candle to Team Santa Maria. They’re not just the best. They’re the most passionate, caring, giv-
ing volunteers you’d ever meet,” Tonascia said. So how do you pick just a few to highlight? First to mind were people like Kathy Patton, who has run the fan-favorite Mutton Bustin’ event for years, Jerry Gunn who, year after year, takes on the thankless job of chairing the Elks Parking Committee. There’s Maggie White, who has made the Mini Rodeo possible throughout its more than 20 years. Sharon Boling has led the charge in the highly appreciated Contestant Center for years. “It’s crazy exciting to work with these people, and to think about how deep their commitment to this rodeo is,” Tonascia said. Then there are folks like Jeanette Veino, who doesn’t really remember a time before rodeo. She started carrying sponsor flags 31 years ago, represented the 50th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo as a rider at the Tournament of Roses Pa-
rade, and has been chair of the Sponsor Flag Committee for the past half dozen years. “You have this separate rodeo family and I love being part of it. I love working with the girls, giving back to the community and keeping the tradition of our rodeo alive. I grew up with it as a kid and I’d like my kids to grow up with it and pass it on,” Veino said. And a party wouldn’t be a party without the work of John Maretti, Bars and Dances Committee chairman. He started volunteering with the rodeo when he joined the Elks 34 years ago. He served as the beverage manager, bar manager, bringer of all refreshments for a decade some years back, but gave it a rest until Tonascia brought him back half a dozen years ago. “I’m ready to retire, but they keep draggin’ me back in,” Maretti quipped. He keeps an eye on another half
dozen subcommittees responsible for the VIP area, contestant area, and saloon, to name a few. “It’s fun working. It’s stressful, and like any other volunteer job there’s a lot of work involved, a lot of different attitudes, different personalities to deal with, but when you finish the job and it’s a job well done, you’re happy with yourself. Plus, it’s a good thing for the community,” Maretti said. The key to keeping volunteers? “It has to be fun. When you’re volunteering, you have to have a good time,” Maretti said. And, he said, don’t discount any volunteer. “You can always find something for a volunteer to do. Always make volunteers feel important and useful. I’m 68 now, but I love doing it. Older people still want to help. Sure, their knees aren’t good or maybe their back ain’t good, but there’s something for them to do,” Maretti said.
Jill Mott rides a stick horse with barrel racer Lisa Lockhart.
Golden Circle of Champions goes to Las Vegas Pediatric cancer patients play games, meet cowboys, cowgirls JENNIFER BEST
Team Santa Maria took its show on the road last December to raise public awareness of pediatric cancer, promote patient and caregiver support, and give Central Coast pediatric cancer patients a big time experience: championship treatment at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. “It was an amazing event and we were so honored, especially since it all started right here in Santa Maria with Lexi Brown, who we all loved so dearly. It’s incredible to see Lexi’s legacy live and grow, and Tina (Tonascia)’s energy making it happen,” said Erika Cota who joined her 7-year-old son, Mateo Cota, for the Vegas trip. The Golden Circle of Champions was established by Santa Maria Elks Rodeo in 2016. Each year, families are honored during the opening night of the rodeo. Through donations and fundraising efforts, financial support is provided directly to the families to fulfill their most urgent needs: paying bills, buying medicine and caring for their family. “Lexi’s mission was to bring pediatric cancer to the forefront. People don’t want to talk about childhood cancer. It’s too sad. But we can talk about breast cancer and prostate cancer and all these other cancers, but who’s doing things for pediatric cancer? We have this successful event that we can use as a tool to help move treatment out of the last century,” said Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Tina Tonascia. In 2018, the program expanded to provide 10 Las Vegas families and 10 families chosen from PRCA-sanctioned rodeos from across the country to take part in rodeo-themed activities in their honor. Each of the 20 families included a child between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age who had been diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer or associated illness.
Mateo Cota learns how to hold a lariat. “When you have a child who has cancer, there’s so much more to it than that terribly sick child. You now have to quit your job to take care of him, get him to treatments, get him to all his appointments. That parent is trying to raise other children while trying to deal with this. Then there’s the financial burden. Other kids in the family don’t get to play sports or go to birthday parties. When you start delving into this, it’s devastating on so many levels,” Tonascia said. While in Las Vegas, the children and their families were honored at the Golden Circle of Champions Banquet at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa, an opportunity to dine with rodeo champions, receive special gifts and learn about the sport of rodeo. Honorees also attended the Wrangler NFR at the Thomas & Mack Center and made their way to Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center for a photo shoot in the Wrangler NFR Arena, followed by live viewing of the Junior NFR presented by YETI. “It was amazing. We got to meet cowboys and cowgirls. I met Lisa Lockhart. I got an autograph hat from all the cowboys and cowgirls, we watched the rodeo and big fireworks, ate popcorn and met new friends, and we got to play lots of
games,” said 8-year-old Jill Mott. Her parents, Aime and Blair Mott, said they hadn’t realized, until invited to take part in Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, how involved the local club was with cancer patients. “I didn’t really understand all the players involved. There are a lot of organizations out there helping kids with cancer, but something about the Elks Rodeo has really done some things. It’s something to see people come together this way. Now we have a whole different appreciation for the lodge and the rodeo,” Blair said. The trip couldn’t have come at a better time for Mateo. Diagnosed 11 days before his second birthday, he relapsed in 2017, went through an eight-month treatment, then relapsed again in July 2018. Immunotherapy started in September of that year failed by November, and he was on track for a bone marrow transplant in January. “The bone marrow transplant is scary. It meant a lot to our family to be able to go to such an exciting event together, especially considering we didn’t know what the future held,” Erika said. Mateo’s favorite parts? Meeting his cowboys, Kaycee Feild and Mason Clements, and watching the horses.
Jill Mott practices roping with her cowboy mentor in Las Vegas. Tonascia and other volunteers who have made the Golden Circle of Champions a success are passionate about their project. “When you look at the data, it’s heart breaking: only three or four new drugs have been established to treat pediatric cancers in the past 30 years; one in eight children will die. People don’t want to talk about it, but if we don’t make noise, how are we going to get new drugs, new cures? We have this platform. We need to use it to make a difference. If we try to get the word out and it doesn’t work, then good for us for trying. If we don’t try, then shame on us,” Tonascia said
But Santa Maria Elks aren’t quitting there. They are successfully encouraging other rodeos to take note, and take part. In 2019, Red Bluff Rodeo has adopted its own program to feed into the Circle of Champions and bring an awareness of pediatric cancer to their fans. Red Bluff Rodeo General Manager James Miller served as Tonascia’s right-hand man at Red Bluff, and she’s thrilled to have him and his crew on board. “There are something like 600 rodeos in PRCA. If we can get onetenth of them to bring awareness to their communities, imagine what a difference that would 00 1 make,” Tonascia said.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | A7
Santa Maria Special Section1
Country sensation Stephanie Quayle to perform on Friday JENNIFER BEST
tephanie Quayle looks S every bit the part of a country music star: young, fit, stylish with a crystal voice and stories to tell. But this up-and-comer has no compunction about stepping down from the red carpet to get her boots dirty in a hometown arena. “I grew up in 4-H, ran amateur barrels at our house, went to every single rodeo. I love being on the farm, throwing a halter on a horse and getting lost in the fields for days. You put me in an arena with horses and cattle, I feel right at home,” Quayle said. The country-born-andraised Montana woman will bring her own flavor of country to the Central Coast when she opens Friday night’s performance of the 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. “She’s very friendly and sweet and charming. There’s no diva involved, so anyone who wants to say ‘Hi’ will be welcome,” said Sunny Country 102.5 FM Program Director Jay Turner. Quayle caught Turner’s attention in 2018 when she showed up at the radio station’s studio with nothing but her music, a guitar player and a work ethic that doesn’t quit. The Jay & Jessie Nashville to You Pop Up Performance that followed at Rancho Nipomo Deli in January 2018 gave Turner just what he was looking for. “She’s got a new sound, but it’s not electronic. It’s pretty traditional country with pedal steel, soulful, authentic sound. It’s not contrived. She has a vibe. If you come to the show Friday night, you’ll see what I mean,” Turner said. The past year saw Quayle named Country Music Television’s Artist of the Year and inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2019. She was tapped to host the Academy of Country Music Awards Awards Carpet with the Wrangler Network which brought her to OK Magazine’s ACM Awards Best-Dressed List. Quayle also performed at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country for the ACM Lifting Lives show. Songs like “Drinking with Dolly” and “Winnebago” have become light-hearted favorites of the fan base
See the show What: Country music sensation Stephanie Quayle When: Friday night from 5:40 to 6:50 p.m. Where: 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo at the Elks Unocal Event Center she lovingly refers to as her “Flock of Quayle” while “Selfish” offers a loving answer Thomas Rhett’s 2017 hit “Star of the Show.” “Over the course of my career and as I continued to find my voice, there has been nothing that feels more right than when I’m singing and writing songs have that country heart. It’s such an important cultural genre as well. There’s so much history with such a wide array of sounds, I’m obsessed with it. I never want country music to lose the heart of the cowgirl,” Quayle said. And she knows her material. “Playing country music, writing country music, loving country music doesn’t mean you have to grow up on the back of a horse on a farm. I did. I got to do that. So songs about that hit me directly because I grew up that way. But country music is for everyone who wants to continue that cowgirl spirit, that cowboy state of mind. That’s why I’m drawn to stories like ‘If I Was a Cowboy,’” Quayle said. Raised on her family’s Montana farm, Quayle began playing piano with her grandmother earlier than most kids learn to read. She played clarinet in the school band, wrote poetry and her own music and, at 15, picked up the guitar. She loved listening to the old barn radio where rock and Americana found playtime, but country music was queen. “It was engrained in me at such a young age,” Quayle said. It was during an exchange program in Switzerland that she became lead singer of a band, setting in stone that need to perform, share her music, and be part of the soundtrack in fans’ lives. “There’s nothing that feels more right then when I’m singing and writing songs that have that country heart,” Quayle said. “I’m the
Country music sensation Stephanie Quayle will perform at the 76th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo on Friday night from 5:40 to 6:50 p.m. songs behind the moments that, hopefully, you’ll go back to in your memory when you hear that song again. If it’s familiar, you’ll remember what you were wearing, what was going on. That kind of song tattoos your heart.” As she worked her way up the ladder of a country music career, she found herself moving to Nashville in 2011, and has been working the sound waves and roadways ever since. “I love being able to create music that has that spirit of the West. There’s so much of that work ethic in any industry. It takes a lot of steps to get where you’re going. It rarely just happens. It’s important we continue growing through that process. The greatest feeling
is when you put your head down, work through all that blood, sweat and tears, and earn that moment,” Quayle said. And she’s earning it, trav-
eling coast to coast, performing at venues large and small, doing what it takes to make a name for herself and her work. “Of all the industry artists
out there, she’s doing all the right things: she’s not over saturating the market, not schmoozing too much, not too pushy. We believe in her,” Turner said.
LIVING LANDSCAPES LIVING LIVING LANDSCAPES LANDSCAPES by Raymond bailey
RENEE ITTNER, SANTA MARIA TIMES
Captain Lynn Ventura, right, and the Elks Color Guard prepare to be in the 1989 Elks Rodeo Parade.
landscape designs Professional landscapes installed lawns, drought Tolerant Planting, Sprinkler Systems, Retaining Walls, and Pavers
FREE ESTIMATES Serving the Santa Maria Valley since 1975
Raymond Bailey (805) 714-0999 www.landscapessantamaria.com Email: email@example.com Fully Licensed & Insured #386636 00 1
1956 Elks Rodeo Parade
A8 | Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Santa Maria Special Section1
Nelson, Heighes sharing parade grand marshal honor ‘Star of the Parade’ is actor and director Tim Matheson LORENZO J. REYNA
The 76th Elks Rodeo Parade will step out Saturday, and talk radio hosts Doug Nelson and Ben Heighes, both known for talking through a microphone, will serve as co-grand marshals. The parade starts at 9 a.m. and moves south along Broadway Saturday morning ending at Enos Street. Following the parade, don’t miss food, games, live music, prizes and family fun the 2019 Foods Co. Rodeo Parade Fair, in front of Foods Co. at 1465 S. Broadway. The Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Star of the Parade” this year is Tim Matheson, a longtime actor, producer and director who is perhaps best known for his portrayal of the smooth talking ‘Eric “Otter” Stratton’ in the 1978 comedy “Animal House.” He also, among other achievements, has received critical accolades for playing “Vice President John Hoynes” on the television series, “The West Wing,” which garnered him two Primetime Emmy Award nom-
inations for Best Guest Star in a Drama Series. For Heighes, the grand marshal honor is “a full circle moment”, because he’s being recognized with Nelson, the man who gave him his first radio opportunity. “The guy who trained me 30 years ago is sharing this moment with me,” Heighes said by phone on Friday. “Doug was one of the first people I met. He trained me on the boards and he led me.” Nelson jokes he’s gone to the rodeo since the age of four – and the year was 1962. “I don’t think I’ve missed one since,” Nelson says. As the host of the “Information Drive at 5” on KUHL 1440 AM, Nelson shares with drivers on their commute what’s going on locally and in the world through news, sports, business, weather and traffic. Before operating behind the microphone through Knight Broadcasting, Nelson spent 31 years from 1981-2012 with KSMA/KSNI radio – which owns Sunny Country 102.5. He was one
2019 Elks Rodeo Parade co-grand marshal Doug Nelson.
of the original on-air talents for Sunny Country. Nelson has had some notable local names on his program: Fifth District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and the late Joni Gray, who served as Fourth District Supervisor for the county. Nelson also demonstrated his knowledge of sports by doing play-by-play for Hancock College sporting events, which earned him awards from the Associated Press for best play-by-play announcer in California, Hawaii and Nevada. During past rodeo parades, Nelson and Heighes have partnered with the Good Samaritan
Homeless Shelter and shared a ride on their float. But this year, they will be given the highest honor in the parade. Nelson, a graduate of Santa Maria High and Hancock College, will celebrate 30 years of marriage with his wife Kathy later in June. He said he’s relishing in his title of co-grand marshal. “Been going to the rodeo and parade all my life, great honor,” Nelson said. Like Nelson, Heighes has spent the bulk of his work career reading scripts and sharing his opinion through the air waves. Heighes, who lives in Orcutt,
2019 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Parade co-grand marshal Ben Heighes.
is a 1988 graduate of Santa Maria High and got his first radio opportunity at the age of 17. He soon shifted over to the FM format by latching on with KSNI radio. He went on to become the host of the morning show “Information Now” from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday – filling listeners’ ears with early morning news. He also provided hourly news updates in the afternoon hours.
Clods, slow ground, slippery sand be gone JENNIFER BEST
Hang around the horse world long enough and you’re bound to hear grumbling about clay clods in the arena, slow ground around the poles and slippery sand around the barrels. Ask any arena dirt worker why barrel racers have to be cremated, and he’ll likely laugh as he completes the old joke, “Because the dirt’s never good enough.” But that old ditty is losing its legs at the Elks Unocal Event Center. At the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas last December, the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association awarded Santa Maria Elks Rodeo the 2018 Justin Best Footing Award for the California Circuit. The award recognizes rodeo committees that put forth extra effort to ensure their rodeo had the safest, most consistent ground conditions throughout the entire rodeo to provide a safe and level playing field for the barrel racing competition. “The WPRA Best Footing Award means a lot to all of the volunteers who have worked very hard over the past few years to get the dirt in optimal condition,” said Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Tina Tonascia. Real work on improving the arena began in 2017 with a WPRA grant LEN WOOD, STAFF to research the mixture of soil eleFlag carriers circle the arena during the Minetti Mini Rodeo at the Elks Unocal Event Center in 2017. ments in the arena. “They found our sand content was too low, plus the sand we had wasn’t really compatible with what we needed. It was sugar sand or ball sand from the hills around here. All the granulars were round. We needed irregular sand, like what they use to mix cement, so clay wouldn’t form around it as bad,” said Elks volunteer Joey Silva, arena preparation chairman. A water test also showed high levels of bicarbonate and magnesium, which only added to the claying problem. The arena was amended to help balance the soil’s pH. “Balancing those levels, introducing that sand, really helped everything start mixing and working right so we don’t have an arena full of dirt clods,” Silva said. Before the 2018 rodeo, 125 tons of sand were also added to the arena in the weeks leading up to last year’s rodeo, and the riders took notice. “We did something really good because everyone noticed the difference. It took lots of man hours to get it correct, but it was well worth it,” Silva said. And the ground work hasn’t stopped. Another 275 tons of proper sand and water-softening material have been raked in, and riders are recording record barrel times at this year’s California Gymkhana Association events held regularly in the arena. “It’s a labor of love. I enjoy what I’m doing and I really like the outcome. They’re seeing record-breaking rides. Everyone’s having a good time. We did something good and it worked. Now let’s PETER KLEIN, CONTRIBUTOR keep it growing and grow this roBarrel racer Allie Jordan competes during Sunday’s final performances of the 75th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo at the Unocal Event Center in 2018. 001 deo,” Silva said.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | A9
Santa Maria Special Section1
2019 ELKS RODEO PARADE LINEUP SALINAS ELKS #614 FLAG
PIONEER VALLEY H. S. COLOR
GUARD PIONEER VALLEY H. S. BAND DRUM MAJOR PIONEER VALLEY H. S. PANTHER PRIDE MARCHING BAND SANTA MARIA CHRYSLER DOGE JEEP RAM COUNTRY OAKS CARE CENTER BOOTS-N-CHUTES ALL ARIBORNE ASSOC COLOR GUARD CALIFORNIA HAWAII ELKS STATE PRES. TIM JAEGER CALIFORNIA HAWAII ELKS MAJOR PROJECTS BLANK ORCUTT ACADEMY H. S. BAND DRUM MAJOR ORCUTT ACADEMY H. S. BAND DIST. DEPUTY GRAND EXALTED RULER TERRY GICKING MERRILL GARDENS KINGS COUNTY SHERIFF’S POSSE GRAND MARSHAL BEN HEIGHES GRAND MARSHAL DOUG NELSON MARINE CORP LEAGUE COASTAL VALLEY DETACHMENT RIGHETTI H. S. WARRIOR MARCHING BAND BLANK ROTARY CLUB OF SANTA MARIA BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF SANTA MARIA VALLEY STAR OF THE PARADE TIM MATHESON RIGHETTI FFA HONORARY GRAND MARSHAL PASTOR RICK BLOOM TOWBES GROUP GARCIA DANCE STUDIO SANTA MARIA ELKS JR. GRAND MARSHALS SANTA MARIA ELKS LODGE #1538 OFFICERS WAGON BLANK SANTA MARIA ELKS LODGE PAST EXALTED RULERS SANTA MARIA ELKS ANTLERS COMMUNITY BANK OF SANTA MARIA SOTO FAMILY COUNTY LINE 4-H ROAD APPLE RANGERS #1 SANTA BARBARA ELKS LODGE #613 PAST EXALTED RULER FESLER JR. HIGH SCHOOL BAND SANTA MARIA ELK OF THE YEAR RICK MARTINO SANTA MARIA ELKS LODGE PAST ELKS OF THE YEAR BLANK RIGHETTI H.S. MARIMBA BAND AND FOLKLORICO SANTA MARIA ELKS CITIZENS OF THE YEAR ALICE PATINO SANTA MARIA CITY COUNCIL SANTA MARIA MODEL A FORD CLUB VANDENBERG MINUTEMAN BAND DRUM MAJOR VANDENBERG MIDDLE SCHOOL MINUTEMAN BAND COL. MICHAEL HOUGH COMMANDER, 30TH SPACE WING VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA POST 982 SANTA MARIA BLACK HOLE CHAPTER LOMPOC ELKS LODGE #2274 BLANK SANTA MARIA ELKS KADIDDLEHOPPERS CLOWN TROOP THOUSAND OAKS ELKS #2477 SANTA MONICA MOUNTED POSSE MISS CALIFORNIA RO-DE-O SALINAS SANTA MARIA ELKS RODEO QUEEN & COURT SANTA MARIA ELKS RODEO SPONSOR FLAGS SANTA MARIA ELKS RODEO SPONSOR FLAGS CHAIRMANS LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST— SMOKEY BEAR EL TORO MARKETS CHARROS BLANK TRI VALLEY RC MODELERS SANTA BARBARA SHERIFFS VOLUNTEER TEAM SANTA BARBARA CO. SHERIFF’S MOUNTED ENFORCEMENT “A” STREET CAFÉ / VTC RANCHO MANRIQUEZ NIPOMO FOOTHILL 4-H RAR GRIFFIN FAMILY TRUCK BUMPING RITA THE CLOWN EL CAMINO JR. HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
Elks Rodeo Parade Route
BLANK BICI CENTRO MICHAEL B. CLAYTON BANDA PRELA GITANA LOS AMIGOS 4-H AMERICAN LEGION RIDERS OR-
AL MALAIKAH MILLION DOLLAR
BAND AL MALAIKAH SILVER MOUNTED PATROL AL MALAIKAH TEMPLE GUARD AL MALAIKAH MOTOR HOST CUTT POST 534 AL MALAIKAH SHRINE CLOWNS ORCUTT JR. HIGH SCHOOL BAND AL MALAIKAH KOOPERS ORCUTT JR. HIGH SCHOOL BAND AL MALAIKAH MOTOR PATROL DRUM MAJOR SANTA MARIA SHRINE CLUB FIRST 3512 SPARTATRONIKS LOMPOC SHRINE CLUB SANTA MARIA FIRE DEPARTMENT BLANK AL MALAIKAH MOTOR PATROL SANTA MARIA H.S. SAINTS MARCHING BAND AL MALAIKAH SAHARA DIVAN AL MALAIKAH STAGECRAFT UNIT MOXIE CAFÉ
EL ARENAL 4-H COMMUNITY FLOAT CHARROS GRANO DE ORO ROYAL CHARIOTS ELKS BLANK HELPING HUMANITY RANCHO EL CAPITAN SANTA MARIA FOUR WHEELERS GOLD COAST COLLISION COUNTY LINE 4-H ROAD APPLE
IN-SHAPE FITNESS TOMMIE KUNST JR. HIGH SCHOOL
MARCHING BAND OAKLEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
ARELLANES JUNIOR HIGH
SCHOOL BAND BLANK AMERICAN VETERANS UNITED ALLAN HANCOCK COLLEGE
YOUTH BALLET FOLKORICO RIGHETTI H. S. THUNDER DRUM-
LINE KT’S ALL-STAR GYMNASTICS TOASTMASTERS SALVATION ARMY PIONEER VALLEY H. S. PANTHER
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS 00 1
Elks Lodge 1538 float entry in the 14th Annual Elks Rodeo Parade, 1957
Elks Past Exalted Rulers entry in 1958 rodeo parade.
A10 | Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Santa Maria Special Section1
FRANK COWAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Sophia Patino placed first in 12-and-under Breakaway Roping during qualifying Sunday for the 2015 Elks Minetti Mini Rodeo at the Elks Unocal Event Center.
Breakaway roping added to Santa Maria Elks Rodeo ticket WPRA invitation to host event lauded by organizers JENNIFER BEST
If you think there’s nothing more exciting in rodeo than bull riding and barrel racing, don’t blink. Here comes breakaway roping, a facepaced, skill-based event which pits horse and roping rider against tricky calf and unrelenting clock. For the first time in its history, the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association has included breakaway roping on its schedule, with the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo one of only five rodeos on the 23-show California circuit offer the performance. “It’s a fast event that’s awesome to watch,” said WPRA California Circuit Director Stacey Freitas. The tension builds as horse and rider wait in the barrier for a calf to be released from an adjacent chute. Then it’s game on as the cowgirl races to guide her horse with one hand, while throwing rope with the other, stopping her horse on a dime and ultimately releasing the rope tied with a bright flag to her saddle horn, marking the end of the run. She with the fastest rope-andrelease wins. And by fast, we’re talking as little as two seconds. “Next to bull riding, barrel racing and breakaway are, I feel like, the most fun because you get to watch those fast horses, watch the clock, and it’s easier for spectators to understand: the fastest time wins,” Freitas said. Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Committee members were thrilled to have been invited to include the event, according to Elks Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Tina Tonascia. “Young ladies of all ages will get to compete at our rodeo with the big girls. A large percentage of our roping entries are young riders out of Cuesta, high school and Cal Poly. What an opportunity to showcase the Western lifestyle, embracing our own community, while bringing in an event for real money, real prizes in a real arena. It’s a huge opportunity for our community,” Tonascia said. Watch for how fast the cowgirl gets that rope over the calf’s head and how fast that rope breaks away from the saddle horn. They also have to have a clean start or face a time penalty. “It’ll take a cowgirl that can rope, mounted on a horse, but get up there, rope in two seconds, then stop hard. The hard-stopping horses will help break the rope off faster so the clock shuts off faster,” Freitas said. And while a great horse and great roper make up a winning team, the event really can come down to luck of the draw. “The calf is the added element of surprise. Some calves come out and don’t run. Others seem like they have jet fuel for breakfast and come
LEN WOOD, STAFF
Josie Pereira rides in the barrel racing during the Minetti Mini Rodeo on May 31, 2018, at the Elks Unocal Event Center. Pereira will be among the competitors when breakaway roping is added to the women’s lineup at the 2019 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. out running like rockets. Some look like they’re running a pole pattern bouncing down the arena. But the girls who are talented enough get the job done,” Freitas said. While breakaway roping has become popular in junior high, high school, and college rodeo, 2019 marks the first season it has been included in the WPRA schedule. Santa Maria is one of only five rodeos on the 23-rodeo 2019 WPRA Wrangler Tour. “In the junior rodeo ranks, all the girls breakaway, but after college, it goes away, so there’s a lot of really good girls out there with no outlet until now,” said John Patino, a second-generation team roper from Orcutt. His daughter, 14-year-old California Junior High School Rodeo Pole Bending Champion Sophia Patino, is in the draw for this year’s event. “I’m excited, a little nervous. It’s with older girls, so it’s going to be more pressure, but I hope to give it all I got and have a fast catch,” Sophia said. The Patinos are thrilled to see this lightning-fast event added to the local rodeo scene and the pro rodeo circuit. “They say they’re trying to get it into the National Finals Rodeo in the next five years. It’s inevitable, really, because there are so many
SUZANNE USHER, CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Sophia Patino competes in Breakaway Roping during Sunday’s District 7 rodeo at the Elks Unocal Event Center on Oct. 23, 2016. Patino, from Orcutt Junior High, qualified in Breakaway Roping for this year’s California High School Rodeo Association’s junior high school state championships. girls riding great out there,” John said. For Sophia, the addition of another roping event is a win. She’s been riding barrels as long as she can remember, but as the little sister
of brothers who rope, it’s the roping that piques her interest. “I grew up watching them rodeo. I’ve competed in team roping with my dad and mini rodeo in breakaway. I like roping events better
than barrels or poles or gymkhana events because ever since I’ve grown up watching my brothers rope, I’ve wanted to do it. I like breakaway best because I can count on myself 00 1 and my horse,” Sophia said.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | A11
Santa Maria Special Section1
2019 Elks Rodeo Queen will be crowned Friday night SANTA MARIA TIMES STAFF REPORT
The 2019 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen will be crowned Friday night during the rodeo’s opening performance, which starts at 7 p.m. The candidates are: ALEJANDRA NENETZIN RAMOS Ramos, 17, is representing the Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe and said she is thankful for the opportunity to represent an organization that shares her love and passion for serving others, the community, and providing opportunities for youth. She is a senior at Orcutt Academy High School and serves as the ASB Vice President and is involved in various clubs in and out of school. After high school, she plans on attending a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She thanks her parents Luis and Amelia Ramos for being great role models who taught the value of giving back. “Together we can make a big difference in this small, yet supportive and deserving town,” she said. EMILY SABEDRA Sabedra, 15, is representing the United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County. She’s a sophomore at St. Joseph High School, where she’s a cheerleader and on the swim team. One of her greatest accomplishments, she said, is being on the Principal’s Honor Roll since the fourth grade. After high school she wants to attend college to study for a future in the medical field. “When I was in the third grade I remember going to the Mini Rodeo with my school and ever since that day it’s been a dream of mine to be an Elks Rodeo Queen candidate,” she said. “Now here I am, proud as can be that my dream came true.” Volunteering is one of Sabedra’s favorite things to do in her spare time. She volunteers most for Special Olympics, and “I am blessed to call my favorite Special Olympian, my big sister, Kaitlyn.” She has also volunteered for the St. Baldrick’s “Bald for Lexi” events, many local fundraisers and served many meals at the homeless shelter.
FRANK COWAN, CONTRIBUTOR
From left, 2019 Elks Rodeo Queen candidates Emily Sabedra, Brianna Thompson, Nerissa Arellano and Alejandra Ramos pose Saturday night inside the Santa Maria Elks Lodge. time) and is a senior at Nipomo High School. She lives with her parents Danny and Angela Thompson in Nipomo, along with her brother Trevor. Her interests include riding horses and showing animals at the Santa Barbara County Fair, Nipomo FFA, and as a freshman she became involved in public speaking and various judging teams. She also played water polo for Nipomo High School. Through 4-H and FFA Thompson has been involved in community service projects such as Toys 4 Tots, Canned Food Drive, Toiletries for the Homeless and Coats for the Cold. More recently, in her FFA leadership class, she spent time each month with the special needs students on campus at Nipomo High School. She also BRIANNA THOMPSON volunteers for the Jack’s Helping Thompson, 17, represents the Hand Little Riders Program and Kiwanis of Santa Maria (Noon- Arroyo Grande Hospital. She’s been involved in 4-H for nine years and served as president and vice president of Los Amigos 4-H club in 2017 and 2018. Her campaign supports the program “Home for Good” through the United Way, which connects veterans and those experiencing homelessness to permanent supportive housing, rehabilitation and any services. “Thank you to the United Way for believing in me and giving me this opportunity of a lifetime,” Sabedra said. “A huge thank you to my parents, John and Kim Sabedra for always supporting me in everything that I do, and to my big sister, Kaitlyn for always being my No. 1 cheerleader and for teaching me more about life than anyone ever could.”
For the past four years Thompson has been part of the Elks Rodeo Flag Team, and plans to spend her scholarship money on college where she aims to get a nursing degree and become a flight nurse. “I am so thankful to be a part of such a powerful organization to further my leadership abilities, grow as an individual and be a part of something that can make a big change,” she said. NERISSA ARELLANO Arellano, 18, represents VTC Enterprises and is a senior at Righetti High School. “I am very thankful to have the amazing support of my parents Jose and Brenda Arellano, as well as my younger brother Noah,” she said. Her mother has worked at VTC Enterprises for 20 years and Arellano said she’s been dreaming of being a queen candidate for the
past five years, while being involved in VTC Queen Campaigns. “Being a part of all the past campaigns makes me very eager and anxious to run myself, I am forever grateful to have this opportunity,” she said. Arellano is involved in Future Farmers of America and 4-H, and has shown animals for seven years, six of those showing pigs, “something I am very passionate about.” She plans to attend Allan Hancock College, receive a business administration transfer degree and transfer to a four-year University, preferably Sacramento State University, UC Santa Cruz, or Chico State where she wants to study English and liberal studies and become an English teacher. “I am honored to be helping our community and the people of VTC Enterprises,” she said.
Cohen From A1
connections to really get into rodeo. “When my friends found out I was shooting rodeo, they didn’t believe that I’d willingly subject my gear to that, but the variety of the access rodeo provides — in the shoots, back to the trailers, in the arena — it’s that access that really roped me in. You’re never getting closer than 15 yards from any player at an NFL game, closer than the end of the dugout in baseball and you’ll never get close to a pro golfer, but rodeo provides its photographers all kinds of access,” Cohen said. For a man who doesn’t particularly care for using the long lens or zoom lenses that trade image sharpness for range flexibility, that close-up access is key. “For me, longer lenses are a crutch. I try to do as much as I can to get as close as I can. Whenever I’m shooting, I’m thinking about how I can safely get as close as possible to whatever I’m shooting,” he said. As his rodeo knowledge has increased so have his rodeo images matured. His portfolio shots convey the story through spot-on focus, artful use of light and reflection, and views both inside the arena and behind the scenes. His work has appeared with ESPN, 20th Century Fox, Wrangler, Cinch, Best Ever Pads, CSI Saddle Pads, Yeti Coolers, Cactus Ropes, the Discovery Channel, the Denver Post, Vespa/ Piaggio, the San Jose Mercury News, Resident Advisor, among others. His pictures regularly run in ads, major magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide. The bull shot on the cover of ProRodeo Sports showcases a ride at the 75th Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. “This one was straight up, taken at 3 p.m. with the sun high. When a bull blows up like that right in front of you, that means you’ve done the planning appropriately, you’ve put yourself in the right spot, and all you need to do is make a picture,” Cohen said. Shooting the circuit, he focuses his efforts on rodeos that offer morning slack time and evening performances to catch the best light of the day. He also studies the animals and the riders. “There are certain bulls and
MATT COHEN PHOTOS
Ernan Rubio / T16/1 Reindiction of Flying U, Santa Maria 2016.
“My little secret is: I don’t know much about post processing at all. The action you see is whatever I get, maybe cropped with some white balance or contrast correction. I don’t know how to do any of these elaborate Photoshop things. Never learned.” -Matt Cohen certain horses I know will do the same thing every time they come out of the chute, so I can plan to be in place when that happens,” Cohen said. And he spends more time in the dirt than behind the computer. “My little secret is: I don’t know much about post processing at all. The action you see is whatever I get, maybe cropped with some white balance or contrast correction. I don’t know
Alex Laird, Santa Maria 2016. how to do any of these elaborate Photoshop things. Never learned. I shot for newspapers, magazines and websites where it wasn’t allowed, and I’m not
particularly interested in learning it,” Cohen said. Cohen offers photography tips and answers to frequently asked questions at biglensfastshutter.
com. For information about live workshops, visit mattcohenphoto.com/workshops. And to see more of his work, visit mattcohenphoto.com.
Steer Wrestlin’ Bronc Bustin’ Bull Ridin’ Calf Ropin’ Barrel Racin’ Family Fun