Gilroy Rodeo: Where the past meets the present

With deep roots dating as far back as 1930, the Gilroy Rodeo was once a town affair drawing an entire stadium of spectators each June. Unfortunately, the rodeo ceased in 1956. Fast forward to 2017, when Erik Martin and his wife Kendra decided to reignite the flame of western heritage in the area by bringing the Gilroy Rodeo back after a 56 year hiatus. The rodeo returned to the scene in 2018 where the ways of the old rodeo cowboy met the modern south bay area culture we live in today. To honor this unique medley, the rodeo Board of Directors decided that the GR motto would be: "where the past meets the present".  It is our hope that in the near future, Gilroy will not only be known for its garlic but for its annual community rodeo. 

Photos and information on this page courtesy of the Gilroy Museum

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Official Program

The last official program of the original Gilroy Rodeo! Note that rodeo was often called Gymkhana in the old days. This word simply means a multi-event equestrian event. In 1956, the event was held in June rather than in late August like it is today. 

A TOWN aFFAIR

Weeks leading up to the Gilroy's annual Gymkhana the whole town would join in on the festivities. See this photo of the town's leaders in 1930 campaigning for the rodeo.

From left to right: 

  1. Traffic Officer: Paul Tremaine

  2. Mayor: James Princevalle

  3. Nat Heiner

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Gymkhana Grounds

Pictured is view from the Gilroy Gymkhana Grounds with its 5,000 bleacher seats was located on the South side of Casey Lane. The picture was taken approximately 1955. The Gymkhana Arena and the grounds were located just a little north of the present athletic field of South Valley Junior High.

The Gymkhana even had its own song written by Vivian Head, and sung to the tune of "Red River Valley"!

Casey Tibbs and Warpaint

Casey Tibbs and War Paint, symbols of Gilroy's famous Gymkhana Rodeo, began in 1929 as a life-size plastic model of a cowboy on a bucking bronco, they stood on top of old Halls Department Store downtown for more than 50 years. Gilroyans and tourists alike had grown attached to this trademark of Times Gone by and although Hall's closed its doors in the early 1990s Casey Tibbs and War Paint watched over downtown many more years and about 10 years ago the iconic pair disappeared. This iconic duo is a Gilroy trademark and our inspiration for the Gilroy Rodeo logo.

When passing by the corner of Monterey and 6th street you can still see the mounting brackets where they once stood. The statue has since been restored and his now displayed each year at the Gilroy Rodeo!

THEN
NOW
GILROY RODEO

Gilroy Rodeo is an old tradition in Santa Clara County working hard to come back for the third time since 1956. We have wild west action and family fun, now all we need is you!

Email: rodeo@gilroyrodeo.com

Address: 2365 Dunlap Ave Gilroy, CA 95020

Registered Charity: 501(c)(3) FEIN 83-0763894

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