A Little Round-Up History...
1918 Clough Ranch Picnic - Tehama County's First Recorded Rodeo
Imagine Tehama County cattlemen and their hands gathering together after the spring round-up of their herds to hold a picnic and informal rodeo. The first of its kind was held in 1918 at the A.H.Clough Ranch in Los Molinos and drew a crowd from far and near. The cowhands tried their luck at riding saddle broncs and wild steers, bulldogging and roping contests.
In 1919, Jess Bennett and Ivy Bell, who ran a cattle ranch near Vina, decided to have an informal bronc riding and roping contest on their ranch. The event was so successful, it was followed by the Vina Festival in 1920. That same year, a group of ranchers and businessmen from Red Bluff and Chico started the Northern California Round-Up Association.
The First Red Bluff Round-Up
After the success of a spring Northern California Round-Up held in Deer Creek, it was decided to form a Red Bluff Round-Up Association and hold a rodeo during the Tehama County Fair in October. Seventeen events were scheduled for the track and infield. Seven thousand attendees cheered contestants. While this rodeo proved to be a financial flop, the Board of Directors decided to hold another rodeo the following September. This event also proved a financial liability, so no rodeo was held in 1923. In 1924, a hoof and mouth disease epidemic cancelled all rodeos. The Northern California Round-Up Association held its last rodeo in 1925. So, in March of 1926, the Red Bluff Round-Up Association decided to reorganize and hold a two-day spring show. Thanks in part to the efforts of traveling advertising man Don Tait (alias Montana Red), the 1926 rodeo hosted over 10,000 in attendance.
"I've ridden at Pendelton, Salinas, Cheyenne and many big shows in the country - talk about salty birds and rough bronc rules - you fellows have them all in one bunch You have every bit as much, if not better, than those other shows."
-1926 Rodeo Contestant
The Caravan Carries the Message
In1928, the Rodeo Committee formed its own publicity caravan which consisted of fifty cars. They drove down the west side to Corning, Orland and Willows and came back on the east side of the Sacramento River through Hamilton City and Chico. In the first caravan, led by Undersheriff Walter Williams, the car’s screeching siren led the way along with a saddle over the hood for Mike Fish to ride on. Megaphone in hand, Mike would climb on the "hurricane deck" to make his announcements while, at the end of the caravan, forty-nine cars back, he would be echoed by another megaphone. This "caravan effort would continue throughout the 1960’s.
Because of the depression, no rodeo was held in 1933. Also, World War II cancelled the 1942-45 rodeos. However, in all other years, the Red Bluff Round-Up has prevailed.
Today's event includes a week of events throughout the community including a bowling tournament, foot race, pancake breakfast, street dance, antique shows, Chamber mixer, golf tournament, chili cook-off, parade, dances and more. The event is a major income booster to the community filling hotels, restaurants and gasoline stations like few other weeks of the year. Being a major PRCA spring rodeo, its timing is ideal for securing top stock contractors as well and world class contestants hungry for season points.