Western fun and lake rides highlight Folsom 4th of July weekend

Western fun and lake rides highlight Folsom 4th of July weekend

By Roberta Long

On America’s favorite summer weekend, Folsom’s exceptional branded hotels invite visitors to a fabulous time enjoying great patriotic entertainment at the Folsom Pro Rodeo, plus tickets to rent kayaks or Standup Paddleboards on serenely beautiful Lake Natoma, with a package of attractive room rates.

Three nights of patriotic fun at the rodeo

Folsom is now a thriving city, home to many high-technology companies. The Folsom Pro Rodeo, in its 56th year, reflects the city’s history when Folsom served as the business center for ranches and farms. The Folsom rodeo began as a patriotic event to celebrate Independence Day. For many years it has been held in the Dan Russell Arena, named after one of the area ranchers.

This year the rodeo events will be held on July 2, 3 and 4. Gates open at 6 p.m. Showtime starts at 7:30 as the evening begins to cool.

Rodeo-goers will appreciate the new enhancements to the arena.

  • A Jumbovision screen will capture all the action, with close-ups of what is happening in the arena and chutes.
  • The food court is expanded and cooled.
  • A new section, Corral Club Premium Seats, includes no-host beverage and food service.
  • After the rodeo and the fireworks, Mike’s Golden Spike Saloon invites you to stay and enjoy drink specials and dancing under the stars to the music of the Dave Russell Band at the newly expanded outdoor area.

Professional rodeo competition is a western tradition

The rodeo continues to feature professional cowboys competing in action-packed competitions in classic events–saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding and steer wrestling. The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association has its own event, where the cowgirls race around three barrels on specially bred and trained horses to electronic timers accurate to one-hundredth of a second.

Livestock for the professional rodeo events are supplied by Cotton Rosser and family from their Flying U Ranch in Marysville. They have adopted many practices from renowned animal behaviorist Temple Grandin.

Kids have fun too–Jr/Jr Rodeo and Mutton busters

The junior cowboys and cowgirls, sponsored by the Northern California Junior Rodeo Association, will have you cheering as they show off their skills. Juniors age 9 and under will compete in barrel racing and steer daubing, both timed events.

Mutton busting is harder than it looks. Just ask any brave 5- or 6-year-old who has tried to ride a frisky sheep by holding onto its lanolin-slick fleece for six seconds. Mutton buster Mama Sharon Williams and her posse are there to make sure everyone has a good time.

21st century rodeo entertainment

As Folsom has come into the modern era, so has rodeo. New types of entertainment from around the world are added to the circuit.

Bull Jumping

Bull jumping is a traditional sport practiced in the Landes region in southwestern France at the base of the Pyranees. Bull jumpers Manu Lataste, “Frenchy the Flying Bull Jumper,” and Cristian Serra Gonzales will appear at the Folsom Pro Rodeo in only the second time the sport has been featured in the United States. Without special protection, the bull jumper faces a four-year-old Mexican bull. As the beast begins its attack, the acrobatic jumper leaps, somersaults or flips nearly six feet in the air over the bull, landing on his feet behind the retreating animal. During the five-minute performance, the bull jumpers execute a series of sensational aerial movements.

Flying Cowboys

Freestyle Motocross is a popular new addition to the rodeo circuit. These “cowboys” need helmets as they fly freestyle through the air on their motorized steeds. Coming out of the ranks of motocross competition, these dirt bike super athletes perform stunts in mid-air. Some of the tricks are called “Can-Can,” “Kiss of Death,” “Cliff Hanger,” and “Heart Attack.” Their performances are truly heart stopping.

It’s all Red, White and Blue

Patriotic skydiver salute

When the strains of “God Bless the USA” begin to fill the arena, it’s time to look up in the sky. From a small dot of an airplane, 4,500 feet above, skydiver extraordinaire Kent Lane is seen in the distance opening his parachute. As he descends, adjusting his parachute to the wind, Lane unfurls a 2,000 square foot American flag that he constructed from lightweight parachute fabric. He speaks to the audience from a radio system in his helmet as he nears the arena. Amazingly, Lane is able to guide the parachute and flag to a soft landing in the center of the arena.

Painted Ladies Rodeo Performers

Beautiful Paint horses. Beautiful riders. Spectacular program. This fast-paced extreme drill team performs in rodeos in California and Nevada, but calls the Folsom Pro Rodeo home. Team Captain Jennifer Matias-Sweeney founded the Painted Ladies in 1993. She says the Paint is the perfect horse for equestrian shows with its agreeable disposition and athletic skill.

Miss Folsom Pro Rodeo Queen

The contest is a program of the Painted Ladies Rodeo Performers. Miss Folsom Pro Rodeo Queen is crowned the first night of the rodeo. Contestants are between 18 and 24 years. They compete in horsemanship skills, rodeo history and public speaking. The Queen will serve as an ambassador in the community and for rodeo. Miss Folsom Pro Rodeo Queen will also ride with the Painted Ladies in parades.

Fireworks cap the show

As the rodeo ends each evening, the sky lights up with a lengthy and dazzling display of multi-colored fireworks, the perfect ending to a 4th of July Folsom Pro Rodeo and celebration.

Easy-to-order tickets

Lodging packages and tickets for Corral Club Premium Seats, Reserved Seating, General Admission and Buckaroo Pack are available online at www.FolsomProRodeo.com.