Over 6,000 people attended the event, which included bull riding, team roping, and barrel racing
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department held its Second Annual Sheriff’s Rodeo on Saturday, May 13. With packed stands, it was clear the community was ready for it.
“It was phenomenal. I’m going to say a sell-out crowd,” said Rodeo President Commander Chad Nicholson, who said they sold 6,000 tickets to the rodeo, not including contestants.
New this year was adding bull riding to the event lineup and live streaming the rodeo for those who couldn’t make it in person. Other events held at the rodeo were team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, and team sorting. All competitors had to compete in a qualifying event leading up to the rodeo, except for the bull riders and steer wrestlers. World champion bullfighter and Paso Robles native Alex McWilliams showcased his skills during the bull riding.
The McWilliams family is rooted in the community with its Premier Ag Performance Hay and Feed Store on Paso Robles Street. The family also served as the bucking bull contractor for the night, bringing in their line of bucking bulls seen in Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events.
Held in the Grandstand Arena at the Paso Robles Event Center, the rodeo was followed by a concert performance by Nashville recording artist Filmore. Families and friends gathered on the rodeo grounds to dance during the concert.
“It’s neat to see the event grow to this magnitude,” said Nicholson. “You know, we wanted to deliver a product to the community where it’s a fun community event that celebrates law enforcement, the Western way of life, the sport of rodeo, and community togetherness and that’s exactly what we did. We wanted it to be family-oriented.”
Nicholson also shares that they have no plans to raise the price of the tickets to the rodeo. At $10 per adult ticket and free for children, it makes for an affordable event for the community, and they plan to keep it that way. But that doesn’t mean they don’t plan to keep adding to their festivities. Next year, there are already talks of adding a pre-show party with vendors and music and Nicholson says they are looking into the possibility of adding bronc riding — a classic rodeo event.
The rodeo raises funds for the Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation, which purchases equipment for all law enforcement agencies in San Luis Obispo County. According to Nicholson, though they don’t have a final profit number yet, they did a good job Saturday night raising those funds.
A tradition carried over from last year, some individuals were recognized during the rodeo. This year it was Kristin Smart’s family and those involved with the case to bring her killer to justice.
“We wanted to recognize Kristin’s family … we recognized some of the other key individuals that were involved,” said Nicholson.
In October 2022, Paul Flores was found guilty of the 1996 murder of Smart, a 19-year-old Cal Poly student. Flores was sentenced to 25 years to life in March of this year.
But, Nicholson notes that for the Sheriff’s Office, “It’s still not over with until we are able to bring her home.”
Smart’s family, creator of the “Your Own Backyard” podcast Chris Lambert, lead detective Clint Cole, prosecuting deputy district attorney Chris Peurvelle, district attorney investigator JT Camp, and other involved investigators were honored in the arena.
Nicholson adds, “We just wanted to give them that stage and that opportunity to tell them thank you for all your hard work, thank you to the family, and our condolences to the family for obviously what they have been through for the last  years, but we wanted to celebrate where we’re at now to where at least Paul Flores is locked up in state prison where hopefully he will never victimize anyone again.”
The event winners are:
- Open Team Roping: Cutter Machado and Chance Machado
- Steer Wrestling: Stan Branco
- Barrel Racing: Brodie Scoville
- Bull Riding: Santiago Castellanos
- Breakaway Roping: Shaylee Baxley
- #10 Team Roping: Katie Rice and Jeremy Pinhero
- Team Sorting: Casey Fowler, Clint Nicholson, Derek Hee
- Sort & Rope: Taylor Hurley and Jason Johe
- All Around Cowboy: Cody Mora
- All Around Cowgirl: Shaylee Baxley
Plans are already in the works for next year’s rodeo, and according to Nicholson, “We’re going to start working on plans for next year’s rodeo to make it bigger and better.”
“We’re extremely happy with the event,” added Nicholson. “We can’t thank the public enough for coming out and supporting it.”
To stay up to date on next year’s rodeo, visit slosheriffsrodeo.com