Brian Golden

When the Space Shuttle production line was reassembled after the tragic loss of Challenger in 1986, there was one slight complication.

Some fabrication engineers, after building the Shuttle Sisterhood of Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery and Atlantis, had made lifestyle changes.

They owned emu ranches on the east side.

To get them to rejoin the efforts to build Endeavour, Rockwell constructed a barn on its property.

The fabrication engineers came galloping up Avenue M every morning.

Imagine — they were riding a 10th century transportation system, to build a 21st century transportation system.

For most of my years in my adopted hometown and Valley, it has been the greatest example I could cite of how the Antelope Valley is a little bit o’ Country, and a little bit’o’ Rock N Roll.

This weekend has always been example 1A.

California Circuit Finals Rodeo Sunday annually climaxes Rodeo Week in these parts.

It is the largest rodeo in the largest rodeo district, the State of California, in America.

As Johnny Zamyzla, the founder of Showdown Rodeo marking its 20th anniversary this weekend, says of the event he puts on at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds every first weekend of October, “You can go to National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, if you want.

“Or you can let it come to you here in Lancaster.”

Last weekend, the best Go-Kart racers in the world assembled on our BLVD. Some of them hit 90 MPH riding off into the sunset.

This weekend, the best Cowboys in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) have come to the Valley, in quest of the coveted gold belt buckle.

A little bit o’ Rock N’ Roll, and a little bit o’ Country. Our country.


This week has been a reassuring reminder that our agrarian and equestrian culture, that dates back to the days of Father Serra, is alive and well and thriving.

And always will.

As the Valley began to grow explosively in the last 40 years due to the Reagan defense buildup and the creeping suburbanization of southern California, many founding families here fretted that our wild west heritage would be paved over and stampeded.

Just the opposite has happened.

Who knows how many of our newer neighbors  climbed into their boots and jeans and cowboy hats for the first time this weekend and  visited the livestock of the rodeo and even learned to line dance?

All we can say for sure is that they were there. 

You saw them.

No other part of Los Angeles County offers this kind of living history lesson.

Don Jesser,  the velvet baritone voice  of Showdown Rodeo, makes us all feel like we’re in an episode of The Rifleman, or the Wild, Wild West, or Bonanza.

Actually, we’re all starring in the 21st Century sequel to The Big Valley.

Hank Hunter must be so proud of his grandsons Tim and Tom Fuller. That’s the largest Ram truck dealership in the USA, not just the west, on 10th Street West.

Don’t know about you, but every time I drive by, the themes from The Rifleman and  Wagon Train and Bonanza and The Big Valley start echoing in my heart.

When the Rodeo clears out, we resume tracking our Lancaster JetHawks all over the Major League Baseball’s postseason.

For now though, it’s Rodeo Sunday — and that’s a LOT of country.

Just the way we like it.

(1) comment

Eric Mills


America seems on the brink of a sea change regarding public attitudes

about the use/abuse of animals in so-called "entertainment."

Witness the ban on SeaWorld's orca shows; demise of the Ringling Bros.

Circus; bans on use of wild animal acts in circuses in New Jersey,

Hawaii, and California; outlawing of greyhound racing in Florida via

ballot initiative; current push to outlaw thoroughbred racing due to the

thousands of annual deaths on U.S. race tracks. Can rodeo be far behind?

Most of rodeo is bogus from the git-go. Real working ranch hands never

routinely rode bulls, or wrestled steers, or rode bareback, or barrel

raced, or practiced calf roping (terrified babies) as a timed event. Nor

did they put flank straps on the horses and bulls, nor work them over with

painful "hotshots" in the holding chutes. Some "sport"!

Indeed, rodeo is not a "sport" at all. That word denotes willing,

evenly-matched participants. Rodeo does not qualify. Rather, it is a

macho exercise in DOMINATION. It needs to go, and legislation is in order.

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