The first night of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is in the books.
From bull riding to barrel racing and everything in between, thousands came out to enjoy the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo which is now in its 79th year.
"It's a tradition you gotta come every year and spend time with your friends and family and just enjoy the rodeo," said JJ Lombrana.
The rodeo, kicked off with a night full of bull riding, bucking broncos, and all sorts of entertainment.
"Santa Maria Elks rodeo stacks up with the best of the best," said Rodeo Announcer Anthony Lucia. "I travel from Maryland to Alaska to the southernmost part of Texas and everywhere in-between. Santa Maria easily, I'm not just saying this, I'm not pandering-- it's one of the best rodeos that I get to go to."
The night kicked off with a somber tribute to Uvalde, Texas. The Texas state flag was first in line in a show of solidarity with a small town rocked by tragedy.
The event struck a theme of unity, patriotism, and coming together as a community.
"It's been pretty good, it's been a great experience watching the rodeo this year," said Brock Wilson. "I've been waiting for it since last year. It's just been fun being out here seeing all my friends and being out to watch the rodeo."
"It's fun to watch other guys get bucked off instead of yourself sometimes," said Lombrana.
Thousands packed into the event center for one of the largest regional rodeos in California.
The first night of the Santa Maria Rodeo was a special night for 25 kids suffering from pediatric cancer. They got treated to a dinner, dessert, and the night of their lives at the rodeo.
"They get treated like the kings and the queens that they are then they get to go over to the rodeo," said Lucia. " The Golden Circle of Champions actually started right here in Santa Maria. Since then it has grown to be a nationwide organization where kids from all over get the opportunity to participate in this event."
The kids also got an invitation to go horse riding in the Santa Ynez Valley.
"We want to provide an opportunity for the kids to have fun, forget any doctor's appointments or worries and let their siblings get to come out and ride as well," said Kim Dotzler with the Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program.
And who can forget teacup, the miniature horse that made her live television debut on KSBY.
"Teacup is a miniature horse, she is 29 years old but she still moves and grooves," said Kate Johnston with the Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program. "We're really excited to have all of the kids and their families come out. It's gonna be on September 10th and they're all gonna get to ride the horses, do crafts, have a lunch-- it's gonna be a really fun day."
The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo runs through Sunday.