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Rodeo kick-off is tonight

Folsom Pro Rodeo
By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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The days of the Old West, when men rode horses with six-shooters at their sides while moving cattle hundreds of miles, will be brought back to Folsom for the Cattle Drive kick-off of the 49th annual Folsom Pro Rodeo. Some 30 head of long horn steers will be herded through town starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, at the city park rodeo arena on Natoma Street and making their to Sutter Street, also known as the “parade route.” The drive not only signifies the beginning of the Pro Rodeo, but has historic significance for the area as well. “The cattle drive was an idea brought to us about eight years ago,” said Don Langford, a member of the rodeo committee and cattle drive coordinator. “We found out that the cattle actually were driven down Sutter Street and across the Rainbow Bridge to Sacramento. About 100 years ago they were brought right through town.” He said that cattle grazing on the Folsom side of the river had to get to market in Sacramento and the only way was through town. “Trains weren’t here until gold was discovered,” Langford said. “This was the only way.” Cattle drives involved cowboys on horseback moving herds of cattle long distances to market. It was a major economic activity in the American west, particularly between the years 1866 to 1886 when 20 million cattle were herded from Texas to railheads in Kansas for shipments to stockyards in Chicago and points east. Because of extensive treatment of cattle drives in fiction and film, the cowboy became the worldwide iconic image of the American West. “Folsom was a real part of the Wild West,” Langford said. “This is an historical connection.” Before the cattle drive there will be a “Bullipede” fun run with five-member teams of runners tied together and dressed in creative costumes. The teams jog the mile trip from the Folsom Lions City Park to historic Sutter Street. The event starts at 6 p.m. this year to “give more families the opportunity to enjoy the free event,” said Kristine Keables of the Folsom Chamber. “Western antics by the Sierra Six-shooters and live music will entertain the crowd until the cattle trot down historic Sutter Street begins,” Keables said. The best place to watch the bulls trample through the streets is along Sutter Street from the safety of the raised sidewalks. The Folsom Pro Rodeo runs July 2-4 at the Folsom City Park. Rodeo tickets and information are available at folsomprorodeo.com.