Stagecoach Days

Bareback bronc riding is a thrill a second. There were plenty of thrills at the Stagecoach Days Rodeo in Banning.

Last weekend the Banning Stagecoach Days Rodeo returned to Dysart Equestrian Park in Banning.

The festivities started at 5 p.m. By 7 p.m., Banning had come alive under the lights of the arena, as members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) tried their luck on making 8 seconds work while riding a bull or trying to stay atop a bucking bronc.

Before the show got under way, wearing satin sashes and riding proudly on their horses, rodeo royalty made an entrance, well-received by well-wishers and fans.

Besides bull riding and bareback bronc riding, other events such as mutton bustin’, barrel racing, team roping, ladies breakaway roping, tie-down roping and steer wrestling entertained bleachers filled with cheering spectators.

Banning Mayor Colleen Wallace came to Friday’s event to show her support for the rodeo, the sponsors and Stagecoach Days.

“I’m very happy that the rodeo is back in Banning. We needed it,” Wallace said. “However, I do miss the carnival that was here for the children. The rodeo is part of Banning’s history, and I like seeing everyone here having fun. I look forward to next year’s rodeo. I’m sure everyone will have a good time like they are tonight.”

Wallace expressed her appreciation of the sponsors that made the rodeo a success.

“The sponsors deserve a huge shoutout,” Wallace said. “They were a big part of this rodeo happening.”

Cabazon resident Tonya Andrews was excited to be at the rodeo in Banning.

“Watching the rodeo live is not like watching it on a screen,” Andrews said. “You are here in the moment. “The rodeo is a very positive thing. It brings things to life. I find it motivating.”

Andrews commented that it was a great night for a family outing.

“If you had a bad day today, your attitude would become happy once you got to the rodeo. It’s Uplifting,” she said. “I think that when children watch the riders and bullfighters, they might decide that they want a career in the rodeo or being around livestock.”

Joe McCann brought his daughter Shay McCann to compete in the barrel racing and to carry the sponsor flags during the rodeo.

“I think the rodeo was well put together and needed for the community,” McCann said. “It brings the community back together, after the recent pandemic when the community was apart.

Shay is in middle school and will join the high school rodeo team and continue her work as a barrel racer.

Cherry Valley resident Melissa Fox has a daughter that rode her horse to carry a sponsor flag during the rodeo.

Stagecoach Days

With a backdrop of 13 flags to represent the 13 soldiers that died in Afghanistan, a lone rider enters the arena with an American flag. 

“I am so grateful that the rodeo is back,” Fox said. “It’s good for the community. We missed it. I think it brings up the spirits of the community, especially after having to stay home for a long time.”

Fox felt that the fans would be energized to see the bronc riding, bull riding and all of the other

events. “Everyone is excited. The rodeo is fun. It’s going to be a good experience.”

Banning resident Anaise Hollis was ecstatic that the rodeo took place this year.

“I’m so happy we’re back,” Hollis said. “I love the rodeo. It’s a staple in Banning.

Hollis likes to see the up-and-coming bull riders.

“The ladies that do the cattle roping and barrel racing is really fun to watch,” Hollis said. “I like the barrel racing the best. To see them make those tight turns and not knock over the barrel is really impressive. I come for the rodeo. That’s it.”

Several times throughout the evening women and girls rode in single file carrying the sponsor flags of the rodeo.

Broncos with names like Gypsy Rose, Wolverine, Blue-Eyed Lucy, Midnight Mirage, Axle Grease took on the best bronc riders in the business.

Bulls like Cajun Rouge, Maga, Ol’ Son, Causing Chaos, Hillbilly Jitterbug, Stop the Steal and Brayham Bob ejected riders as soon as the gate was open.

It was definitely a bull’s night at the rodeo.

Protecting the bull riders are bullfighters.

These are men that distract the bull once the rider is on the ground.

Josh Hernandez, from Las Cruces, New Mexico and his teammate Tristan Seargeant, from Mineral Wells, Texas, met the bulls head on.

“I don’t think people realize that it takes a set of skills to do what we do,” Hernandez said. “You are always thinking. You have to be. We train hard like any other athlete. We’re here to protect the rider at all costs. I love my job. I meet great people, and the action is always on.”

Throughout the two and a half days of the rodeo, 13 American flags were raised to represent the soldiers that were recently lost in Afghanistan.

Patriotic songs and patriotism for America were shared at several points on each day.

Representing Stagecoach Days royalty for 2021 are Rodeo Queen Hanna Calagna; Sydney Webb was crowned Junior Miss Stagecoach Days; and Emmale Donaldson was bestowed the title of Little Miss Stagecoach Days.

Paul Prado is a contributing writer at the Record Gazette.

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