The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is well underway Thursday and this morning hundreds of elementary school students cheered on the competitors at the Clarence Minetti Mini Rodeo.
More than 5,000 students and chaperones came out to the event.
The rodeo offers a special deal to schools – it’s free!
The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo pays for all 66 buses and the drivers it takes to transport all the students to the rodeo.
“It is a logistic miracle to get more than five thousand students and chaperones and volunteers here at the rodeo and make sure that everybody’s having a good time but if you can hear it they’re having an amazing time,” said Maggie White, Santa Maria Bonita School District public information officer.
For more than 90 minutes, students had their eyes glued on a scaled-down version of a regular rodeo performance.
White said something unique about the event is that the kids can relate to the performers.
“What is even better is it’s students their own age or a little bit older that are doing the events,” White said. “They had a six-year-old out doing barrel racing just a few minutes ago and that’s so amazing and encouraging for the students to see, and it’s boys and girls and I love that everyone can see that rodeo is inclusive.”
The rodeo featured both professional cowboys and cowgirls and local students.
And everyone had their idea of what the best performance was.
“When the little kids ride the sheep for a lot of these students,” third-grader Flor Gomez said.
Besides the mini rodeo, there was also team roping, bull riding, mutton busting and barrel racing.
The 76th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade runs until Sunday, June 2.
The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Parade is Saturday, June 2.
Several streets will be closed Saturday morning to make way for the parade.
To read about those closures, click here.