The Fiesta Stock Horse Show and Rodeo made its return to the Earl Warren Showgrounds on Friday, roping in a group of community members from across the county anxious to be back at a rodeo once again.
The atmosphere was lively inside the showgrounds’ Dome Arena on Friday, as attendees — most of whom donned cowboy hats — cheered for friends and fellow riders participating in the events. The show ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and will continue through the weekend.
Among the crowd of cheering fans was Cheryl Bodnuda, an equestrian from Casmalia, who has participated in the Fiesta Rodeo for about 15 years. During this year’s show, Ms. Bodnuda could be seen wrangling cattle in the Alisal Ranch Horse Class, the Stock Horse Class and the Buckaroo Class.
When she was not out in the arena performing, Cheryl and her husband, Roy, cheered on fellow equestrians and friends during the rodeo.
After the pandemic canceled last year’s rodeo, Ms. Bodnuda said she’s happy to be back out riding with her friends again. For her, the show is not just about competing — it’s about camaraderie too.
“I’m enjoying the heck out of (the show) and seeing everyone again,” Ms. Bodnuda said.
“I think my favorite part is the friendships and everyone coming together,” she added.
The Fiesta rodeo has been a long-standing tradition in the annual celebration, and is one of the few traditional events that took place this year after the Mercado De la Guerra and Las Noches de Ronda were sidelined due to surging COVID-19 case rates.
During Friday’s show, many attendees sat spaced apart and in groups with friends and families. The large, open-air arena provided plenty of room for social distancing, and many of the event’s attendees did so.
A few of Friday’s attendees travelled across the county to witness the show, including Jo-Ann Cutshall and Manuel Castro, who reside in Solvang. Mr. Castro is a trainer at Flag is Up Farm in Solvang and trains Ms. Cutshall’s Mustang.
Both attendees came out to support a friend who was participating in Friday’s show, and said they try to make it to horse shows whenever they can.
As an equestrian herself, Ms. Cutshall said she has deep admiration for how well-trained the horses are, noting that many of the riders train their horses for many years to get them to the point of showing at the Fiesta rodeo.
“Being around horses, (you) know how much it takes to get to this point,” Ms. Cutshall said. “I just really admire what they’ve accomplished with their sport.”
The Stock Horse Show will continue this weekend, with events scattered throughout the day today and tomorrow. For a full schedule of events, visit sbfiestarodeo.org.