Rodeo de Taos ready to kick-start the next 50 years

By Arcenio J. Trujillo
The Taos News
Posted 6/21/18

The Taos County Sheriffs' Posse has made it over the hump and is back in the saddle for yet another bucking good time at the 51st Annual Rodeo de …

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Rodeo de Taos ready to kick-start the next 50 years


The Taos County Sheriffs' Posse has made it over the hump and is back in the saddle for yet another bucking good time at the 51st Annual Rodeo de Taos June 23-24.

A staple in Taos' annual event calendar, the long-running rodeo has drawn participants and spectators of every age and experience level for 50 years.

Spectators can expect the usual events, such as calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and saddle bronc riding. Of course, the rodeo would not be complete without the ultimate fan favorite: bareback bull riding.

Sanctioned by the New Mexico Rodeo Association, the smaller Rodeo de Taos occasionally attracts well-known names to its event - riders needing points to advance towards nationals or for rank.

Started in 1967, the rodeo has never missed a year thanks to the dedication of the officers and members who have worked tirelessly throughout the year to maintain the longstanding community show, often logging hundreds of volunteer hours in preparation for the annual event.

And every June, signs start popping up throughout the Taos area, reminding community members of the coming tradition.

Adding to the bevy of rodeo events and youth activities that take place every year, members also prepare for other aspects of the event, including the rodeo parade, rodeo dance, rodeo royalty and court, and fundraising to support the sheriff's posse scholarship program.

The weekend activities begin with the Rodeo de Taos Parade, which will take place on Saturday, June 23 at 10 a.m. and runs along the usual parade route from the Taos post office to the Taos County Courthouse. There is no Rodeo Dance scheduled this year.

"Seven men had a vision for this rodeo," said Ronnie Salazar, current outgoing rodeo captain who has served the sheriff's posse as its fifth captain in the group's long history. "They planted the seed that gave us this event that has truly become a part of Taos - a slice of the Taos experience that has been built up to what it is now."

Ruben Baca Sr. will serve as the next captain, taking over for Salazar who has been the rodeo captain the last 20 years.

Along with Baca, Taos County Sheriff's Posse members include: first lieutenant, Ronnie Salazar; secretary, Merly James; treasurer, Ruben Baca, Jr.; corral sergeant, Dennis Johnson and mess sergeant, Arturo Suazo. Members include: Armando Galindo, Bernie Garcia, Christina Mares, David Mares, Ruben Martinez, Tim Martinez, Cipriano "Cippy" Medina, Danny Miller, David Montoya, Miguel Montoya, James Oakley, Dennis Salazar, James Salazar, Louie Tafoya, Joe Torres and Monica Wilder.

Also turning in the reins, is last year's rodeo queen Elizabeth Pacheco, though there is no Rodeo Queen for 2018 to take her place. Odalys Gallindo returns as Junior Rodeo Queen and is joined by her attendant, Alexis Rosales, Miss Rodeo de Taos princess. She was the 2017 Miss Rodeo de Taos Sweetheart. All members of the royalty are heavily involved in their respective 4-H clubs, raising animals, such as rabbits, goats, ducks and chickens as their projects.

Fans planning on attending this year's event will find solace under the grandstand due to the work that was done to the roof last year. Due to heavy winds early in 2017, sections of the old metal roof were torn away, causing gaping holes in the roof. Crews completed work on a new roof days before the start of last year's event. It was one final task for outgoing captain, Ronnie Salazar, whose legacy included several improvements to the arena during his 20-year tenure.

In an interview at the conclusion of the rodeo weekend last year, Salazar was optimistic about the direction of the Rodeo de Taos in the next 50 years. "Perhaps one of my grandkids will want to carry on this tradition and one day be captain," said Salazar, who insists that he wants to somehow stay connected to the rodeo. "As long as this group stays committed to serving our community, I think it will stay strong."

Located at the corner of Salazar Road and Camino de la Merced, the Rodeo de Taos stadium is a spacious venue for participants and fans alike.

Rodeo events will commence at 2 p.m. daily and cost to enter the arena is $10 for ages 13 and up and $5 for children 7 to12. Children 6 and under are free.


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