76th Redding Rodeo May 15 - 18, 2024 - Tickets on sale now!
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Home > About > History of the Redding Rodeo

History of the Redding Rodeo

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.

Original Redding Rodeo Program

Front gate

Front gate

Junior Club House

Junior Club House

Queen Contestants

Queen Contestants

So… that tiny Saturday night dance has now become the Redding Rodeo Steak Feed serving thousands the weekend before rodeo. And that tiny one-day rodeo? It is now a 4-day Hall of Fame rodeo, held at that same location, with a purse in the $100’s of thousands!

But is it only rodeo? Of course not!! There is now several days of events; Specials Kids day to celebrate the otherly-abled children in our area. Heritage Day where kids in K-4 learn what it is to be in a rodeo, be a rancher, a horse person and be responsible and respectful while learning about our local heritage. Steak feed? Best party under the stars!! And let’s not forget our neighbors and partners in rodeo, the Asphalt Cowboys, founded by local businessmen in 1954! Their annual BBQ in September and of course the BIGGEST pancake breakfast in the nation on Friday morning of rodeo help many in our community. You can always spot them wearing their bright yellow shirts, helping where they can!!

We would be remiss in failing to mention the affiliate rodeo clubs. The Redding Rodeo Association Auxiliary, the steadfast helpers of the rodeo since its inception. They can always be seen throughout the community helping wherever needed. The Redding Women’s Rodeo Association (Originally the Posse-ettes) have always helped with rodeo, assisting in concessions and tickets. Not to be forgotten, the future of all rodeos, our Redding Junior Rodeo Association. They help in ways to numerous to list! Lastly, our Queen program is second to none! These ladies represent our rodeo at many rodeos and north state events. Without all the groups that volunteer, Redding Rodeo would not be the community success and tradition it has become. And since we are 100% volunteers, we can give back to the community via many scholarships and donations to several nonprofits…not to mention, that’s just the Cowboy Way.

Rodeo Ticket from 1952


In 2023, the Redding Rodeo celebrated 75 years of "Buckin By the River". It was an amazing year with records broken. Over 20,000 people attending the 4 performances.

As a part of the 75th Redding Rodeo, the inaugural class of the Redding Rodeo Hall of Fame were inducted Tuesday, May 16, 2023. It was a special evening honoring those who have given their time and talents to make the Redding Rodeo what it is today.

Thanks for taking a minute to learn a bit about our rodeo. It is steeped in the rich history of the west, flavored with those things that are uniquely Northern Californian, colored with the bright red, white or yellow shirts of the men and women who volunteer countless hours to make each go-round of the Redding Rodeo the very best. We will see YOU at the Historic Redding Rodeo.

2023 Hall of Fame Inductees



Bennett Gooch

Lee Luft

Alex Garibay

Bruce Alexander

Lee Ellison

Frank Silva

Mike Husa

John Monteil

Bob Van Horn

Alex Garibay

Lee Luft

Rick Williams

Mike Schmitz

Bruce Brown

Dave Eggen

Jim Davis

Bruce Alexander

Ron Getty

Ralph Mors

Don Hanley

Pete Peters

John Jones

Lee Ellison

Gene Parham

Hoyt Castoe

Don Harp

Harold Meister

Don Anderson

Dan Silva

Bill Cox

Tom Clifton

John Balma

Kip Powers

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