Liz Writes Life 4-11-17
April 11, 2017
Liz Writes Life
Published in Siskiyou Daily News, Yreka, CA
The Scott Valley Pleasure Park Rodeo will be held on Sunday, May 7, 2017. From my research into the history of the rodeo, (I served on and off the rodeo board for 25 years) several rodeos had been held previously to the one on Sunday, May 4, 1947. But, for some reason, using the first Sunday in May as the annual date stuck. It was in 1948 that a handful of men and one woman decided to form the Pleasure Park Association and actually went so far as to obtain a 501 c 7 non-profit status with the state.
Ranchers had been playing horse polo since the early-1930s in Scott Valley and in 1945 George Dillman, his son Hearst Dillman, and local druggist Gleason Balfrey purchased 12 acres from Kenneth Depew down by Etna Creek to flatten-out for polo games. It was rocky and sandy from previous floods. At times, temporary bucking chutes had been built to buck out horses – just for fun.
In 1947, three local teens asked the polo players if they could put on a rodeo. Jim Johnson, Jasper Landi and Tom Webster were those enthusiastic teens. Several sturdy bucking chutes were made and gossip flew. Local folks decided to show up and watch the teens try their hand at bucking-out horses between polo matches. The rodeo events were quick-paced compared to the polo games and, through popular opinion, it was decided to hold another rodeo the next year.
The board of directors listed on the 1948 Articles of Incorporation were: W.D. “Pinky” Mathews, Fred P. Browne, Ruth Gepford, George R. Dillman, Roy Mason, Robert A. Dillman and Frank Bryan – all of Etna. Records point to George Dillman as the president, who was quoted by the weekly “Western Sentinel” newspaper for all residents to enjoy using the Pleasure Park grounds.
An arena was built inside the huge polo field, which was still huge and horse races were run between rodeo events on the resulting track. In the early days, folks drove their cars and parked around the arena to watch. Jerry Reynolds remembers helping his grandfather build huge rough-cut lumber grandstands. The lumber certainly created a lot of splinters as it usually took my mom hours – it seemed like – to remove them from my hands, arms and legs after playing at the rodeo grounds, when I was a kid.
Those grandstands, corrals and fences were destroyed during the 1964 flood. After deliberation, the directors in 1965 decided to hold a “benefit” rodeo at the Yreka Fairgrounds. Gene Selby was the president. The next year’s board decided to take the plunge and purchase land from Jess McNames and rebuild the rodeo grounds. I recall practicing with our horse drill team in spring of 1966, while people from our community worked on building the present arena and grandstands. Loggers with big equipment helped out the ranchers and friends with the huge job.
Over the past 70 years, many folks have worked and donated their talents to making the Pleasure Park Rodeos and activities successful. What a great family tradition it has become — for all walks of life.
Secretary Jaclyn Boyce will be taking rodeo event entries from contestants on April 14 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call her at 530-340-5527. To get your kids in the Calf Riding and Mutton Bustin’, you need to call on those dates as well.
This is truly a rodeo-weekend, as the California High School Rodeo Association District #1 Finals will be held on Friday and Saturday, May 5-6 at the Pleasure Park grounds.
Rain and snow
I see where Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the “drought” is over, but is still keeping water restrictions and conservation measures in place. It was sure convenient for state agencies to take control of water use, but one-size-fits-all was the not the realistic way to deal with the drought throughout the state.
The Sierra Nevada Mts. have certainly taken on historic amounts of snow, which provide municipal and agricultural water for most of the state. As of last Saturday, the Dept. of Water Resources reported the year-to-date average sits at 205 percent above normal for the water year. Yea!
Locally, the Klamath National Forest April 1 snow surveys showed an above average snow pack in the south and west mountains bordering Scott Valley. Scott Mt. reported the highest percentage with 121 percent of average snow. Middle Boulder 3 near Mt. Bolivar at 6,200 feet elevation boasted 110 percent with 63.7 inches and Swampy John above on Salmon Mt. at 5,500 feet elevation was at 100 percent of its 66 year average of surveys.
I was not able to attend the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors meeting last week, but was happy to learn the supervisors approved the agenda item to send in an application to become a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, instead of the State of California mandating our Siskiyou groundwater.
Ray Haupt, Dist. 5 Supervisor, told me that he explained to the packed room of concerned constituents that he actually didn’t like going down this path. He wants property owners to have control over their groundwater. But with the state threatening to take control of groundwater basins and his constituents asking for protection from the state, he voted for the Siskiyou Co. Flood Control and Conservation District to take the lead in working with the four subbasin groups in the county.
Tickets are still available for the Jeanette Finicum dinner fundraiser on Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Miner’s Inn Convention Center in Yreka. Jeanette will be speaking and the funds will go to help her bring a civil lawsuit for the wrongful death of her husband, Lavoy, when he was killed by FBI agents in Eastern Oregon on Jan. 26, 2016. Tickets are $25. Call Grace Leeman at 530-598-1908.
Liz Bowen is a native of Siskiyou Co. and lives near Callahan. Call her at 530-467-3515.
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