A long time ago, a young man from a small town, had a big idea! That young man was Sheriff John Balma. That small town? Redding California. And That BIG idea? Redding Rodeo
Northern California, most especially the extreme northern part, has always been a land of ranchers and farmers. Independent thinkers and people who are part of the land. Not afraid to work hard and get a bit dusty doing it! That’s the Northern California that John Balma and his friends grew up in. Most went to the local high schools then back onto farms, ranches or working a family business. John, along with many of his cohorts went off to battle during the 1940’s, joining the various armed services. When these young men returned home, most were battle hardened but their love for the area and ways to make it better was always in the forefront.
John become the chief of police for Redding in 1939 and at that time, the sheriff’s posse was born, out of wartime necessity and by order of President Roosevelt. John and many other law enforcement officers were charter members of that young posse! In 1943, John took a leave of absence but returned to Redding in 1946 to resume his position as Police Chief. While he was away, an amateur rodeo had been held in Anderson, just south of Redding. That first rodeo in September of 1943 had a $175 purse plus all entry fees! A Saturday night dance was held starting at “9 til milking time!”. In 1948, the tiny horse show rodeo moved to Redding and the area that was once gravel and scrap from the building of Shasta Dam became the spot of the Sheriffs Posse grounds. The city of Redding granted the Posse with a 99-year lease. In the early 1980’s, it was decided that the posse would remain under the mandate of the Sheriffs office and the Redding Rodeo Association and their trademark red shirts were born! John helped form what is now known as the 6 Pac Rodeo group, consisting of 6 major rodeos in California. John Balma served as the 6 Pac president for many years, taking rodeo to the next level.