Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 27, 2014

Small rodeo, big hopes

A little bit of country came to East Palo Alto on Sunday, June 22, when the city's first rodeo took place at Ravenswood Ranch on Weeks Street.

The all-day event, dubbed Big Hope Little Rodeo, saw bull riding, barrel races, roping, mutton busting, dancing horses and a stick-horse race for kids. The event raised funds for the Palo Alto nonprofit Abilities United, which aids people with developmental disabilities.

Event organizer Jose Rojas said about 800 people and families watched 56 contestants compete, with bull riders and ropers coming from as far away as Reno, Gilroy and Half Moon Bay.

Rojas' love for all-things-rodeo dates back to his childhood in Mexico, where he learned to ride and dreamed of competing in rodeos. But his greatest inspiration to host the East Palo Alto event, he said, are his 2-year-old twin boys, one of whom has Down syndrome and uses early-intervention services from Abilities United. Rojas plans to organize another rodeo next year.

Ravenswood Ranch, which hosted the event, is the only urban ranch of its kind, serving children and adults in East Palo Alto and surrounding communities. The ranch aims to teach the community basic skills from gardening to animal care as well as expose residents to other possible career and recreation options. The cities of East Palo Alto and Redwood City sponsored Sunday's event.

— Sue Dremann

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