A Little Round-Up History...
1918 Clough Ranch Picnic - Tehama County's First Recorded Rodeo
The first rodeo in Tehama County was held in 1918 at the A.H. Clough Ranch in Los Molinos, CA. It took place after the spring “round-up” of their herds. People traveled from near and far to watch true cattlemen rope, bull-dog, ride saddle broncs, and take on wild steers.
In 1919, Cattle Ranchers Jess Bennett and Ivy Bell held an informal bronc riding and roping contest on their ranch in Vina, later to be known as 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, we owe them many thanks!
The First Red Bluff Round-Up
The first rodeo through the Northern California Round-Up Association was held that next spring in Deer Creek. After its success, it was decided to form the Red Bluff Round-Up Association. Red Bluff quickly took on the tough cowboy reputation after its first rodeo at the Tehama County Fair that October.
"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
Seventeen events played out while 7,000 rodeo fans cheered on the contestants. As tough as the cowboys were, so was the feasibility of rodeos. In 1923 the event was canceled because of this. The next year, hoof-and-mouth disease wiped out several herds and the epidemic canceled all rodeos as well. Better luck was found in 1925 and the rodeo was able to return to Northern California. However, this was the last year of the northern association. As a result, cattlemen in Red Bluff decided to take on the tradition and the Red Bluff Round-Up Association was officially formed in 1926. They held a spring rodeo that March which brought an estimated 10,000 people to Tehama County.
The Caravan Carries the Message
Along with rodeo is the beloved rodeo parade, which was merely a small caravan of fifty cars in 1928. People of Tehama County could hear the caravan coming by the sheriffs’ sirens which led the way. The first included Tehama County Undersheriff Walter Williams. His sheriff’s car was saddled with resident Mike Fish who rode on top of the hood as they drove south through Corning, Orland, Willows, and then came back on the east side of the Sacramento River through Hamilton City and Chico.
This caravan effort continued throughout the 1960s.
Fast-forward to today’s Round-Up, it is the largest three-day rodeo in the country. A huge milestone for the Red Bluff Round-Up was hosting our 100th anniversary in 2021. Less than 25 rodeos have been around long enough to do this and Red Bluff is proud to be one of them. Our community depends on us. The economic impact during rodeo brings more than seven million dollars to Tehama County as hotels and restaurants fill up with people from around the world to watch the top cowboys and cowgirls compete for the famous Red Bluff Round-Up Title. The week includes a bowling tournament, foot race, pancake breakfast, street dance, antique shows, Chamber mixer, golf tournament, chili cook-off, parade, Saturday night concert, and more.
A major PRCA spring rodeo, the Round-Up never fails to secure top stock contractors as well as world-class contestants hungry for season points. Once the competition is said and done, more than $300,000 goes back to assisting local organizations.