Aaron Watson will headline the 2019 edition of the classic California rodeo, an event closely associated with one of the most famous champion bulls in history.
Chances are good you’ve heard of the Red Bluff Round-Up.
There’s the longevity: The crowd-thrilling Red Bluff, California, event kicks off its 98th edition April 19-21. But since the late 1980s, Red Bluff has enjoyed added fame as the hometown of one of rodeo’s most storied bulls, the PRCA 1987 Bucking Bull of the Year, Red Rock.
Moviegoers may remember Red Rock being prominently portrayed in 8 Seconds, the biopic of the late world champion bull rider Lane Frost. During Frost’s career before his untimely 1989 passing, he had a series of epic showdowns with Red Rock dubbed “Challenge of the Champions.”
One of the matchups in the series between the bull and Frost took place in conjunction with the 1988 edition of the Red Bluff Round-Up. Red Rock won his hometown round after a two-second ride. Another two-second ride gave Red Rock another victory a week later. But Frost was determined, and the next attempt saw him conquer the bull, lasting the full eight seconds. In the end, Frost won the series 4-3. But the series made both the bull and the athlete (pictured in a friendlier moment) exponentially more famous, and Red Bluff has enjoyed the fruits of that.
Red Bluff Round-Up’s general manager, James Miller, cites Red Rock’s fame (and his association with Frost) as a crucial historic attraction at the “destination rodeo,” bringing in domestic and international visitors every year.
Red Bluff is a small agricultural town along the Sacramento River in Northern California. Almond orchards and cattle dominate the landscape of the town, with its population of 15,000 people. When the Round-Up rolls around every year, the sun is typically out with the first real stretch of warm weather. Consider it the rodeo world’s spring break.
The event offers contestants good stock and lucrative prize money. For tourists, there’s a lot to keep busy with, too. The eleven-day stretch includes a parade, bowling tournament, cowboy golf, wine tastings, and more, and comes together with the help of 350 volunteers.
When it’s rodeo time, every seat is taken in the arena, and the spectators are rapt. “There’s always something going on at this rodeo. It’s nonstop action,” says Miller.
One thing that definitely stands out is the Wild Ride, in which bronc riders burst from the chutes dressed in hilarious costumes to the delight of the crowd. And this year, Texas country phenom Aaron Watson will put on a Saturday night concert.
The event has a large economic impact of $6 million, and the rodeo gives back to the community through scholarships and support of civil organizations.
But back to that champion bull: Red Rock was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame a few years before he died in 1994. His owner is Rodeo Stock Contractor John Growney, whose great-grandfather was an early founder of the Red Bluff Round-Up. Growney says today that the rodeo has shaped his entire life one way or another.
“Because of Red Bluff Round-Up and being a little kid raised in this town, I found my hero [legendary cowboy, Cotton Rosser] early in life, and I became what my hero was,” Growney says. “My life has been so blessed.”
That’s what a touchstone rodeo can do, for a legendary bull or its owner.
For tickets and info, visit the Red Bluff Round-Up official site.
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ONLY 67 days left until our 2019 Red Bluff Round-Up 😮 APRIL 19th, 20th & 21st With SOLD OUT crowds year after year, we want to make sure you get your tickets while there is still a chance! - To purchase your Rodeo or Saturday Night Concert tickets (Aaron Watson at Red Bluff Round Up): Stop by our Red Bluff Round-Up Mercantile Store, our office, or click the link below: https://bit.ly/2RVbeEP