The California Rodeo Heritage Museum celebrates the history of the California Rodeo from its days of being a semi-annual round-up to its modern day adaptations.
In 1872 the Monterey County Agricultural Association built a race track, grandstand, stables, bar and restaurant on a parcel of property donated to the City of Salinas, under the terms that a fair and races be held at least every two years. When attendance at the races began to decline the future of the property was in jeopardy due to the terms of the gift. A group of cattlemen who belonged to an informal club called the "Salinas Coyotes" took it upon themselves to help revive interest and on August 1, 1911 the first rodeo was held at the race track grounds; it was advertised as a Wild West Show.
Over the decades, many improvements have been made to the grounds including the addition of the California Rodeo Historical Committee. The California Rodeo Historical Committee was formed in 1979; the Historical Committee was aided by a gift of an authentic Wells Fargo Stagecoach and a building in which to house the coach. Barbara Breen and Marge Behen were the first co-chairman of the museum, and with the help of wives of committee men and directors they have accumulated a remarkable amount of historical memorabilia relative to the Rodeo. Memorabilia collected includes attractive displays of vintage Miss California Rodeo outfits, rodeo clown costumes, and cowboy attire from some of the California Rodeo's most famous alumni. Saddles, cowboy hats, and tack donated by those families connected to the Rodeo's founding directors and participants can be seen.
Donations from the community, Wells Fargo and Patrick J. Sherwood have been used in the past years to complete projects such as the Wells Fargo Stage Coach Room and interactive learning activities for children.
The California Rodeo Heritage Collection Museum is located at 1034 North Main Street in Salinas (California Rodeo Grounds). The Rodeo Museum is open to Rodeo fans all four days of the Rodeo; Thursday and Friday from 4pm into the evening, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am. It is also open by special appointment throughout the year.