The trip to Salinas was well worth the effort - The Salinas Rodeo (down there they pronounce it Ro-day-oh) should be on everyone's "to do" list just once. This is an evening of non-stop entertainment and action, loosely based on the antics of the old-time working cowboys. The two announcers, sitting side-by-side and using the same PA system (high quality and quite loud!) keep a running banter going for about three hours as they comment on the various activities unfolding in front of the crowd.
Imagine, if you will, a mile-long racetrack passing in front of the grandstands. In the infield is a huge rodeo arena with stands on the far side and bleacher-type seats at each end. The racetrack encircles the whole assembly. There are a couple of big John Deeres with ingenious fence panels attached that can set up a smaller arena on the track directly in front of the crowd. This allows the organizers of this event (in its 93rd year) to quickly change over from horse racing to reining/working cow competitions and then on to barrel racing and "mutton busting."
While the spectators are trying to keep track of all that directly in front of them, the huge main arena is running the normal collection of bull riding, bareback and saddle broncos, team roping, and bulldogging events. At one point in the evening, just as a large bull was released from his pen to perform his mayhem on the hapless rider, a horse race started out of the gate. After the bull-rider picked himself up off the deck and cleared the area, another bull was released to launch his "rider" just as the racehorses came flying around the last turn to finish the race at the center of the grandstands.
The event ended with the "bullfighters" (these are the guys who save the lives of the bull rider after he has parted company with his bovine friend) having a contest mano a mano with nasty and large Mexican bulls for prize money. These guys are more than "just" rodeo clowns - they are stark-raving nuts! And it's easy to see why they have the respect and admiration of every man who lowers his butt down on to a bull.
It didn't get any cooler for the rest of the weekend but that's a whole 'nother story!