Despite triple digit temperatures that kept many hunkered down at home the last couple days, Folsom’s Dan Russell Arena was host to a capacity crowd Saturday night for the opening of the 62nd’ annual Folsom Pro Rodeo. Over its three-day run, some 22,000 fans are expected to pass through the gates at the event.

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By late afternoon Saturday, the thermometer had climbed to 108 just before the gates opened for what it is Folsom’s premier spectator event each year. Dressed in patriotic apparel of the cool and comfortable nature and donning their cowboy hats, fans of all ages weren’t letting mother nature ruin the night that many have have planned for months. 

“We bought tickets just after the new year this time to make sure we got them, we are’t letting a little heat keep us from being here,” said Anika Davis of Orangevale. “It’s summer, it gets hot, you just have to prepare for it, be smart and not over do it.”

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Plenty of rodeo fans were beating the heat my enjoying their favorite ice-cold beverage at Saturday’ opener, some were of the adult nature, others we’re not and there was plenty of red, white and blue shaved ice treats being consumed by younger fans along with ice cream, cold soda’s and for many, just plain ice-cold water. 

In addition to the array of hydration options from many different vendors that the Folsom Chamber of Commerce has done a great job of procuring for the three-day stint at the arena, they have provided additional amenities to help fans keep more comfortable as well. Among the options, a misting tent provided by local company Smart Mist USA as well as an area known as the Cool Down Corral where fans can enjoy dining at the rodeo in the shade and the Dignity Health Family Tent where families can make sure their little one’s a cooled off to be able to enjoy watching their heroes perform in the arena.

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When it comes to the rodeo performers, they too were keeping hydrating Saturday night, although they don’t have the time like the fans do to enjoy shaved ice or and ice-cold brew until their work is done at the end of the night. Some veteran performers take extra steps to insure they are well hydrated so they can perform without issue. 

Longtime Folsom Pro Rodeo Clown Matt Merritt and local event emcees Adam Frick and Taryn Growd are three key components of the program, working in the arena to entertain the crowd from the time the show begins, also the hottest part of the evening prior to the sun going down.  The comical duo both took the time Friday evening on their own to receive IV drip therapy, to be extra prepared for their active roles in the arena as well as layered costumes. 

Saturday’s opener started in traditional fashion that often doesn’t leave a dry eye in the stadium with patriotism and community being the theme as the American Flag arrives to the arena via sky diver just prior to the performing of the National Anthem. Saturday’s anthem was performed flawlessly by El Dorado Hills’ resident and Oak Ridge High School graduate Mikey Jantzen.

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The grand entry brought the capacity filled arena to its feet as they cheered in support as 2023 Rodeo Grand Marshal Kris Keables led the entourage into the arena, on horseback. Keables, a longtime Folsom resident, Keables has been involved with the Folsom Pro Rodeo for decades, from her time as a local newspaper editor to present day where she wears many hats, from that of “rodeo ticket queen,” to helping coordinate local media needs, helping with volunteers, vendors and more. Later in the evening, Keables took some time to cool off while she visited with fans in the midway. 

“This is one of the hottest one’s in a longtime, “said Keables, referring to the triple digit heat. “It seems like the heat always arrives just in time for the rodeo and it sure did once again.”

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Saturday’s event kept the crowd entertained with all of the traditional performances and festivities the event is known for, from the well orchestrated patriotic performances by the Painted Ladies Rodeo Performers, an icon of the Folsom Pro Rodeo, to the children’s coin hunt in the arena that kicks things off to the brave little mutton busters that test their skills upon the back of sheep to see who can hang on the longest. 

From there, it was on to the professionals taking to the arena with an action packed program of bronc riding, barrel racing, roping, bull riding and more. The competitions, provided by the well-known Flying U Rodeo provided non-stop entertainment, with Merritt stepping in between each event to provide plenty of laughs and shenanigans to keep the crowd entertained. 

After the final bull rider left the arena, it was the Flying Cowboys that roared into the stadium with their daring motorcycle stunts. The display of jumps, flips and two wheeled acrobatics were a prelude to the traditional fireworks display that wraps ups up the program each of the three evenings. 

When the action in the arena ended Saturday, the night was far from over for rodeo fans. Popular local band Moonshine Crazy took to the stage in the outdoor saloon where fans were able to enjoy libations and dance the night away under the stars. 

Moonshine Crazy plays all three nights of the rodeo this year to complete a busy weekend after they opened for rising country artists Chris Lane, Tyler Rich and Canaan Smith at the Ride in the Music Concert Friday night, an event not promoted by then rodeo, but taking place in conjunction with it on the field at Lakeside Church. 

Action returns to Dan Russell Arena Saturday for night two of the Folsom Pro Rodeo that will provide a second round of non-stop entertainment. Unfortunately, tickets are sold out for all three days this year. 

The Folsom Chamber of Commerce continues to warn of ongoing third-party ticket sales and scams taking place online and warns the community to avoid making a costly decision. Many of the third part sellers pose as individuals online, posting their have extra tickets for sale, etc.  The Chamber of Commerce and the Folsom Pro Rodeo social media pages have had an onslaught of such postings as well as area community pages. The Folsom Times Facebook page has had several postings of this nature as well.  

“We are sold out, please don’t pay hundreds of dollars to some reselling site, save your money for next year and buy early,” noted Keables, who also warned residents on area social media pages of the ongoing third-party sellers. “I have already heard from folks who have paid hundreds of dollars for our tickets.”

Official tickets for the Folsom Pro Rodeo each year are sold through www.folsomprorodeo.com. A few of the sites Keables warned fans of include places like tickets.com, eventticketcenter and others. Beware of posts appearing they are from individuals as well, that will lead you to such sites. The Folsom Chamber of Commerce notes that the third party sales are not illegal, but very costly to the consumer as some are selling for more than $100 per seat when the original general admission ticket goes for $29. 

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan