Supporters & Contributors-The Happy Family-Edith, Don, Clifford and Bonnie
Don and Edith Happy began working Salinas in the mid 1940’s with J Spear Rodeo Company. Don hauled, fed and cared for livestock. He was a pick up man for over 15 years and also found time to compete at Salinas and ride in the parade. Edith was a rodeo secretary and became one of the most thrilling trick riders that performed at Salinas, becoming most well known for her hippodrome stand. The cowboys respected Edith as a secretary and voted her as Rodeo Cowboys Association Spokesman in 1961. Edith was the only woman to hold this honor. Clifford and Bonnie were put to work by cooling out Don’s pickup horses and Edith’s trick riding horse at an early age, feeding livestock or pitching in wherever needed. Bonnie followed in Edith’s footsteps and began trick riding at Professional Rodeos, performing in Salinas for 8 years, starting at the young age of 16. She mirrored her mother’s style with the hippodrome stand and brought the crowd at Salinas to its feet, feeding off of the applause. Bonnie also carried flags in the opening ceremony, helped other contract acts and ran barrels professionally at Salinas. Clifford worked behind the chutes feeding, loading, unloading, helping on the track, helping his mom and dad and anyone else who needed him. He began competing at Salinas round 1972 at the age of 19 and worked saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling and team roping-every event except bull riding! Clifford went on to become a well-known Hollywood stuntman. Clifford and his wife Marguerite, a Salinas native, still attend the Rodeo every year and are enthusiastic ambassadors for this event, their “hometown rodeo.”
Contestants-Leo & Jerold Camarillo
Leo & Jerold Camarillo The son of a working cowboy and ranch foreman, Leo Camarillo knew what discipline and hard work were all about when he embarked on his professional rodeo career. His upbringing helped him win four world team roping titles and a world all-around championship in the 1970s and 1980s. An intense competitor, he created and perfected a revolutionary style of heeling steers (catching both hind legs). Camarillo was also an excellent tie-down roper and steer wrestler. Leo claimed the Salinas Steer Wrestling title in 1974 and the Tie-Down Roping title in 1979. He won the Salinas Team Roping title in 1982 with Tee Woolman and in 1996 with Levi Grantham. Leo’s brother, Jerold Camarillo, was also a World Champion Team Roper, claiming that title in 1969 and he won the average at the 1975 National Finals Rodeo. Jerold’s arena is fondly known as “Camp Jerold” and it is there that he strengthens the sport of Rodeo and the team roping event by passing his skills on to the youth who are the future of rodeo. Still active in the Senior Pro Tour and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Gold Card Team Roping event, the Camarillo Brothers continue to leave their mark on the sport of Rodeo. Jerold won the team roping title twice in Salinas: in 1969 with John Miller, and in 1973 with H.P. Evetts. Every year since 1968, the pair has traveled to Salinas to enjoy Big Week to compete and spend time with friends they have acquired over the years, and when asked fondly site the California Rodeo as their favorite. *Information from www.prorodeohalloffame.com
Committee: Chet Behen
Chet Behen,born in the Fort Romie district near Soledad, always wanted to be a cattle rancher. His first opportunity came in 1931 when he worked in the Arroyo Seco for Summer Gould. By 1936 he was employed by the William Randolph Hearst Ranch, where he met many movie stars, ultimately participating as an extra in numerous films. During World War II, Chet entered into a working partnership with Irvin Bray, buying and selling cattle throughout the west and eventually started Pacific Valley Cattle Company with Jan Martinus. All the while, Chet was also competing in and winning calf roping, single steer stopping and team roping at various events. Chet was a California Rodeo Director for over 30 years, Arena Director for 11 years, served as President in 1981 & 1982 and was given the Gold Saddleman Award in 1967.In addition to his California Rodeo participation, Chet was active in such civic and state organizations as the National and California Cattlemen’s Association, the Rodeo Cowboys Association and Rancheros Visitadores.
Committee- F.E. 'Gene' Dayton
F.E. ‘Gene’ Dayton served an unprecedented and unmatched 17 years as the President of the California Rodeo Salinas. He became a Director of the Rodeo in the late 1920’s and was holding the position of Second Vice-President in the mid-1930’s. When President Arthur Hebbron passed away in 1936, the reins of the Rodeo were handed over to First Vice-President DA Madeira through the 1936 Rodeo. After that Rodeo, Mr. Madeira stepped down and then the board voted in Gene Dayton as President. He would remain in that position until he stepped down in 1953. During his term, the California Rodeo Salinas flourished to national status. Mr. Dayton was instrumental in providing accident insurance to the cowboy contestants and was also involved in the Rodeo Association of America working to establish rules and regulations for the sport of Rodeo. In addition to his dedication to the California Rodeo, Gene Dayton was very active in organizations such as the Elks Club and Masonic Order as well as the California Real Estate Association and the Salinas Chamber of Commerce to name a few.
Track Contestant-Johnny Brazil Jr.
Johnny Brazil Jr. of Geyserville, CA began his brilliant career in the reined cow horse industry at the age of 15 in Lafayette, CA. In the '40s Johnny joined with other breeders and exhibitors to write bylaws for an organization to promote competition based on the methods of the California Vaquero. These giants of horsemanship were charter members of the California Reined Cow Horse Association, the organization that later became the NRCHA. He has won over 60 championships from Snaffle Bit Futurity, Salinas Rodeo, Monterey Horse Show, Cow Palace and the California State Fair. In 1997 Johnny Brazil Jr. was inducted into the NRCHA Hall of Fame for his lifetime as a trainer of champion hackamore horses and bridle horses. He continues to train and show professionally and at the age of 83, is the oldest professional competitor in working cow horse classes.’*Information from www.sonomacountyhorsecouncil.org. Johnny Brazil Jr. is also a member of the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Hall of Fame.
Mel Lambert was the voice of the California Rodeo for nearly 40 years. ‘He would fly his twin engine plane into the Salinas Airport and become a citizen of Salinas for Big Week. He would speak at local clubs, visit schools and promote the California Rodeo with great enthusiasm,’ said long time friend and Rodeo Past President and Director Sam Eastman. ‘Mel Lambert took to the microphone after trying every event in rodeo. Born June 6, 1920, he started competing when he was 16 and announced his first rodeo in Bend, Ore., in 1938. Lambert announced the National Finals Rodeo in 1969 and 1972, and during his career, he became the voice of many PRCA rodeos. In addition to announcing at the California Rodeo, Mel also announced ‘the Oregon State Fair Rodeo in Salem, 20 years; Iowa’s Championship Rodeo in Sidney, 20 years; the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo, 30 years; and New Mexico State Fair Rodeo in Albuquerque, 30 years. Lambert died March 3, 1999.’ *Information from www.prorodeohalloffame.com.
Notables-The Jones Family
The Jones Family- John W. Jones Sr. & wife JoAnn Romer Jones, their son John W. Jones Jr. and family. John W. Jones. Sr. excelled on the PRCA’s biggest stage, winning the National Finals Rodeo’s aggregate title three consecutive years and a record four times overall. The Rookie of the Year in 1956, Jones’ world bulldogging title came in 1970. At the 1970 NFR, he placed in six rounds and left no doubt he was the best in the world, winning his fourth aggregate title by 15 seconds. Jones may have won more world championships, but he didn’t like to travel and didn’t seriously pursue gold buckles. As the first RCA Rookie of the Year, he inspired groups of promising steer wrestlers with his exceptional skill and courage.* John won the Steer Wrestling title here in Salinas in 1958 and 1967 and took home the Calf Roping buckle in 1962. John’s wife, JoAnn Romer Jones, was the 1953 Sweetheart of the California Rodeo Salinas, representing the Rodeo as an ambassador of our event and the sport of rodeo during her reign. Legend has it that JoAnn and John met right here in Salinas.
Despite a strong family rodeo tradition, John Jones, Jr., did not become interested in the sport until age 15, preferring to play football, baseball and basketball. When Jones decided to rodeo, he quickly developed winning skills. He was the California High School Rodeo Association tie-down roping and steer wrestling champion in 1977-78 and the NIRA West Coast steer wrestling champion in 1979. He competed at the NIRA finals three times. Jones bought his PRCA permit in 1980 and was named the Rookie of the Year in 1981. Jones earned three world bulldogging titles in the 1980s, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 10 times and won the NFR aggregate in 1988. He also qualified for the NFR twice in tie-down roping.* John claims the California Rodeo Salinas as his favorite rodeo and has Steer Wrestling championship buckles from 1984, 1996, 1997 and 1999 in his large collection. John’s daughter Katie has sung the National Anthem on the track at Salinas to open the performance and she and her sister, Shannon, continue to rodeo and carry on the Jones Family legacy.
Lucky Blanton began his career as a race horse and after that part of his career was over Salinas Resident Tom Mattart turned him into a calf roping, heading and heeling horse, steer stopping horse, an occasional match race entry and the sire of many top roping horses, ranch horses, a few race horses, American Quarter Horse Association Champions and California Reined Cow Horse Champions. Tom Mattart competed at Salinas on Lucky Blanton from 1947 through the mid-1950’s. Thirteen of the ropers entered in the 1954 Salinas Rodeo were contesting on Lucky Blanton’s get. Bred by Burns Blanton of Bowie, Arizona, Lucky Blanton was foaled in 1936 and he died in 1960. In addition to Lucky Blanton being inducted into the Cow Horse Hall of Fame, his offspring went on to accumulate several awards: three AQHA Race ROM’s, one Superior Race Award, 19 Halter points and 9 Performance points. He was also a successful broodmare sire and his daughters have produced many AQHA Champions, AAA race horses, Superior Halter horses and Reined Cow Horse Champions.