A century-old Castro Valley tradition – the annual Rowell Ranch Rodeo – attracted thousands of fans last weekend to watch the more than 100 riders, ropers and assorted cowboys competing for big cash awards.
The rodeo, always held on the third weekend in May, is one of the oldest in America and is the longest continually-run rodeo in the Bay Area.
“We come every year and it’s always a lot of fun,” said Rita Cardinale. “In fact, every time we drive by this place on the freeway, my kids ask ‘Is it time for the rodeo yet?”
Brian Collier and his family made the trip from the Reno area to watch a friend compete.
“It’s one of my favorite rodeos out there,” Collier said.
The Rowell Ranch Rodeo began in the 1921 as a small show put on in Hayward by Harry Rowell, “the Rodeo King of the West.” Each spring, Longhorn cattle would be gathered for branding and local cowboys would get together to show off their rodeo skills.
A few years later, the rodeo moved to it’s current location on Dublin Canyon Road.
Rowell went on to become the director of the Bay Area’s first Grand National Rodeo, in 1941 at the Cow Palace. He was eventually inducted to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
These days, the Rowell property in Castro Valley is run by the Hayward Area Recreation District, with the stipulation that once a year its made available for that rodeo.