It has been over 35 years since Pete Pedrazzi, a Director at the California Rodeo Salinas at the time, saw an event during his travels to other rodeos that he very much wanted to bring to Salinas-so he did! The Exceptional Rodeo, as it was called then, began as an event similar to the Special Olympics. Professional cowboys and cowgirls were teamed up with special needs children and participated in a "makeshift" rodeo where the children became cowboys and cowgirls for the day.
Dressed in hats, t-shirts, bandanas and contestant numbers, these children roped a steer "dummy," raced a stick horse around barrels and were "bucked" on a horse and bull (made of fur and stuffing). The highlights, however, were riding a real live horse and being accompanied by the heroes we know as cowboys and cowgirls.
The "Special Buckaroos Rodeo," as it is called in Salinas today, continues all of those same events that Pete saw decades ago. The event, held on the track each Saturday of the Rodeo at noon, involves 24 special needs children from Monterey County who leave with a souvenir picture, trophy, contestant bag and a huge smile! The rodeo announcers and the professionals who come down on the track each year help to make this event the success that it continues to be. The love and caring that they share with these children provide them with memories that last a lifetime! Thank you to Tanimura & Antle for sponsoring this priceless event.