39th annual Truckee rodeo highlights Western culture

Margaret Moran
Onlookers watch as a contestant competes Saturday in the Truckee Professional Rodeo calf roping event, a timed event involving the catching and roping of a calf.
Margaret Moran / | Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — With an arm raised high, a rider attempts to stay on a horse as it pitches forward before kicking out its rear legs. Despite his best effort to stay on, the man donning chaps and a cowboy hat eventually tumbles off and lands in the dirt.

The scene was among many that unfolded at the 39th annual Truckee Professional Rodeo this past weekend at McIver Arena.

“We really enjoyed it,” said Morris Tryon, Truckee resident, who attended the rodeo with his wife, Stephanie. “It’s really been fun. It’s been a fun activity for the afternoon.”

Over two days, roughly 1,000 attendees, some decked out in Western gear, watched from the sidelines as contestants participated in bareback riding, calf roping, steer wrestling barrel racing and bull riding.

“Ohs” issued from the crowd when lassos missed their mark, while “whoo-hoos” and claps greeted contestant successes.

“It’s exciting,” said Lindsey Heath, 8, of Truckee, who attended the rodeo with her family on Saturday.

Less-competitive entertainment included choreographed horse routines and a youth boot run involving audience members, drawing laughs from the crowd.

“I think people love to see the animals and be involved in the Western tradition,” said Stephanie Buranzon, executive chair of the Truckee Professional Rodeo.

When asked if the rodeo and Truckee are a good match, everyone agreed.

“Absolutely,” Tryon said. “With the Western theme and the mining, the timbering that started in the 1800s, it’s a perfect fit.”

Mary Blocher, president of the Truckee Donner Horsemen, a nonprofit organization that promotes horsemanship and the preservation of McIver Arena, said the group loves the rodeo.

“We need to continue to perpetuate the Western culture here in Truckee,” she said. “I’m thrilled that we’re continuing on.”

The rodeo’s tagline is “giving back to the youth of the community.” The event provides a scholarship for a high school senior planning on pursuing equine studies in college.

Last year a $500 scholarship was awarded, with the rodeo likely being able to do the same this year, Buranzon said.

“It’s a great event for Truckee,” said Jason Heath, Lindsey’s father. “We need it. Keep it in Truckee.”

Learn more about the rodeo at

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