A local cowboy competition is just one of the many things that makes the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo unique.
Mixed in with all the professionals, the Elks hold their own team roping to determine which twosome wins bragging rights for the next 12 months.
On Saturday evening, during the third performance of the 76th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo at the Elks Unocal Event Center — the third straight sold out house — the father-son team of Daryl and Billy Vinnedge, from Arroyo Grande, had a 9.0-second run, posting the night’s best time.
“We won’t win the overall championship because we had a little bad luck Friday morning. We’re just trying to win something in the go-round,” said Billy Vinnedge. “It’s always fun to rope in the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo but since it’s our hometown rodeo, it puts a little more pressure on you. It’s fun to be able to rope with my dad. It’s really the only reason I still rope.”
“It’s great to rope with Billy, a lot of fun. Billy is a great athlete. He’s an even better human being,” said Daryl Vinnedge. “Billy is good at everything he does.”
And Billy Vinnedge does a lot.
Sometimes you have to travel halfway around the world to chase your dream.
Away from the arena, he’s a rocket scientist at Vandenberg Air Force base, the head coach of both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Hancock College and holds an annual football kicking camp in Nipomo.
“And don’t forget he’s a former NFL kicker. He kicked for the San Diego Chargers,” said Daryl Vinnedge.
The father-daughter team of Mark and Regan Fowler had the second best Elks team roping time Friday at 24.7 seconds.
Los Alamos cowboy Luke Branquinho has his work cut out for him when he returns to the arena for championship Sunday.
The five-time world steer wrestling champion led the first go-round after Thursday night’s 5.5-second opening performance.
Spectators lined Broadway’s curbs and sidewalks Saturday morning to watch 120 entries ranging from floats, equestrians, mariachis and marching bands to antique vehicles, fire engines, patrol cars, motorcycles and bicycles roll by in the 76th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Parade. The music, dancers and local residents waving to friends, family and total strangers brought a festive atmosphere to the early morning procession from Mill Street to Enos Drive
Blake Knowles wrestled his steer in 5.3 seconds Friday morning to win the first go-round and then came back Saturday with a 6.3-second run for a two-go total of 11.6 seconds.
But Knowles wasn’t Saturday’s best.
That distinction goes to Stetson Jorgenson after a 5.0-second run — with a 10.8 first round, Jorgenson’s 22.8 total is good for fourth overall.
“I knew the steer I had. I had done my homework, got a good start and made it work,” said Jorgenson, in his first appearance in Santa Maria.
Jorgenson is currently 16th in the national standings and needs to move up at least one spot to earn a shot at December’s National Finals Rodeo.
“It would be nice to ride out of Santa Maria with a little bit of money, every little bit helps,” said Jorgenson.
Riley York was second best Saturday after his 5.6-second run.
Luke Branquinho is having a happy homecoming.
It was a rough night for bareback and saddle bronc riders.
Only two bareback and one saddle bronc rider made qualifying eight-second runs.
Tony Barrington had a 70-point ride aboard the Flying U Rodeo’s Cattle Call and Brian Brown scored a 63 on Get Your Kix in bareback. Five other bareback riders bit the dust.
Jamie Howlett’s 84.5-point ride Thursday night remains the score to beat.
Martin Joyce had the only successful saddle bronc ride Saturday, scoring 73 points on Lil Hawk.
Third-grader Alison Bravo of Bonita Elementary in Santa Maria arrived dressed like a cowgirl for her first rodeo experience at the Minetti Min…
That moved Joyce into a tie for fourth place with Ethan Lemmons.
Joe Harper’s 80-point Thursday night ride remains the top ride.
It was a tough night for the professional team ropers.
The first five teams out missed their mark.
The final two, however, had quick, clean runs.
Tanner Baldwin and Nano Garza, the final riders on the night, had a 7.0 second run.
Just before that, Ryan Dodds and Brad Bishop went 8.7.
The Elks’ Unocal Event Center was packed Thursday morning.
During Friday’s slack, two teams tied for the round lead at 6.5 seconds — the teams of Dallas Owen/Taylor Winters and Lane Santos-Karney/Kyle Lockett.
TeamAgin.com got back to its winning ways in Xtreme Bronc Riding.
Winners of Thursday’s opening night performance, the trio of Trace and Wade Agin and DJ Stoneburner lost their bucking horse Friday to finish out of the money. On Saturday, they were on the mark making quick work of the race.
In late events:
Westyn Hughes was fastest in tie down roping at 8.3 seconds.
Jack Vanderlans hit a 9.8 that was good for second place.
In women’s breakaway roping, San Luis Obispo’s Erin Clendenan hit a 3.4-second run that was best on the night, followed on the night by SLO’s Patricia Rincon (5.5) and Santa Maria’s Haliegh Grant (5.6).
2017 world champion Nellie Miller broke the 17-second mark with a lightning-fast 16.74-second barrel race — a Santa Maria arena record.
Sheena Robbins was second quickest at 17.35 with Syd Wheeler and Shelby Thall tying for third at 17.40.
And the final word went to the bulls.
They went 9-2 over the cowboys Saturday night.
Only Brady Portenier and Aaron Williams were able to make successful eight-second rides.
Boudreaux Campbell’s 84.5 ride Friday night held up, keeping him in first place but Portenier moved into the money with the second best point total, 83.5 atop Renegade.
Connor McClure’s 82 pointer Friday night is now the third best ride with Saturday's 75 by Aaron Williams aboard MJ Kat Ranger good for fourth.
But it all comes down to Sunday’s 2 p.m. matinee.
Championship buckles and money are on the line in every event as the 76th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo wraps up.