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Wrangling a good time at weekend’s Auburn Stampede

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Organizers of the Auburn Wild West Stampede are promising more fun than you can swing a lasso at this weekend at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. And while it’s thrilling and heart-pounding to watch cowboys and cowgirls young and old try to hang on to bulls, broncs and even sheep, there’s plenty of entertainment offered at a little bit slower pace as well, some of which is even available for free. “Not only is it a sporting event, but it’s also a family event as well,” said Karen Spencer, rodeo spokeswoman. “So in addition to the rodeo, there are plenty of entertainment options too.” The entertainment starts today with a full day of team roping, which begins at 9 a.m. and goes into the night hours. More than 400 teams have registered for the contest, which is based on what ranchers do to immobilize a calf for branding, medical treatment or other reasons. “This is what real ranching is all about,” Spencer said. “It is a wonderful opportunity for people who might want to stop by on their lunch break and watch for a while and learn a little more about what we do.” The California Cowgirls mounted drill team is scheduled to kick off rodeo events this weekend. “All rodeos have a grand entry, which is an opening ceremony, basically,” Spencer said. Spencer said the California Cowgirls, who originate from the Bay Area, are quite a sight. “They are really flashy,” Spencer said. “It’s just a lot of energy and they’re just beautiful to watch.” Roaming around the fairgrounds Saturday will be Scouts of the Cascades, known for their traditional Western tunes. Also roaming the fairgrounds this weekend are The Gunfighters, a group of gun-slingin’ Old West re-enactors. “They’re the epitome of goofiness in the Wild West,” Spencer said. “They just like to dress up and have fun. It adds to the entertainment value, and that’s something people can come out and enjoy, even if they’re not going to the rodeo.” Spencer said The Gunfighters are scheduled to perform both Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. and repeating the show from time to time each day. And don’t be afraid to cover your ears — The Gunfighters do shoot blanks, and they are loud. Gun slingin’ not your scene? Check out the carnival and Trading Post, which open at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and don’t require rodeo tickets. The carnival features rides suitable for children and adults, including the Ferris wheel and the tilt-a-whirl, in addition to carnival games. “We haven’t had a carnival at the rodeo for a number of years, but we brought it back,” she said. “Especially with kids, they can’t sit through a three-hour event. So parents can take them to the carnival for a while and they’ll sit down for another hour.” After you’re done with the rides, walk around and enjoy the shopping opportunities and food booths. Edible options range from carnival favorites like corndogs and cotton candy to Polish dogs, Bubba’s Barbecue and Mexican food. Oh, and don’t forget the kettle corn and Hawaiian ice. Adults looking to burn off their cowboy calories should head over to Pistol Pete’s Saloon Rodeo Dance, which begins at 9 p.m. Saturday at 140 Harrison Ave. Admission is $5 for adults 21 and older. Once inside, attendees are sure to get a kick out of music by J. Scott Evans. Pistol Pete’s has hosted the rodeo dance for a few years, Spencer said. “It is so big that they put up tents in the parking lot,” she said. “It should be a fun, exciting night.” Spencer said a rodeo dance tends to draw a good crowd. “It’s a really friendly atmosphere,” she said. “It’s not like a club where you have to dress up. You just put on your boots and jeans.” Pete Aroz of Pistol Pete’s said the dance is always a worthwhile event. “When everybody’s in town, all the cowboys and cowgirls, it’s a neat thing,” he said. “It’s neat how it all comes together.” Visit auburnrodeo.com for more information. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at auburnjournal.com.