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Monday, September 25, 2023

Fortuna Rodeo kicks off with fun festivities, food and entertainment – ​​Times-Standard


Monday is the annual chili cook-off, one of the first big events at the 102nd annual Fortuna Rodeo. (Mary Bullwinkle/The Times Standard)

The annual Fortuna Rodeo and many events related to the 102nd anniversary of this tradition are just around the corner.

First up, this year’s rodeo poster, created by local artist Michelle Murphy-Ferguson, is a collage of historic imagery that speaks loud and clear about the Fortuna Rodeo . At the center of the poster is a photo of the late Roy Curless, who served on the Fortuna Rodeo Association’s Board of Directors for 66 years, 34 of which as Chairman, and a 2011 photo of Curless and his wife, Laurada. Images include the Rodeo Champion Saddle hanging from the ceiling at Parlato’s, Ben McWhorter riding a steer in 1987, Marilyn Edgmon Irons and Christine Barkdull in 1965, Viola Russ McBride in the 1920s, and Clarence Bugenig riding a Mustang in 1937.

This year’s theme is “102 This Rodeo’s For You!”

Shannon McWhorter, president of the Fortuna Rodeo Association, said, “The Fortuna Rodeo Association Board of Directors has worked hard over the past year to put together nine fantastic low-cost or free family fun events .”

Lots of fun every day of the week leading up to the two-day Fortuna Rodeo on July 15th and 16th (Saturday and Sunday).

Monday of rodeo week will again include a chili cook-off sponsored by the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce. Twenty-three teams have signed up and will compete in several categories including Hottest Chili, People’s Choice, Best Chili Overall and Best Dressed.

This year’s judges included Fortuna Police Chief Casey Day, City of Fortuna Manager Merritt Perry, City of Fortuna Mayor Tami Trent, Humboldt County Supervisor Michelle Bushnell, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy JD Braud and Fortuna Athletics President Shannon McWhorter.

Kristin Chambers, executive director of the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce, said, “We have a great lineup of judges, a great team of contestants, great musicians, and the acoustics of Ryan Rice and the Remedy Band!”

Chili cooker starts at noon on July 10th, free public tasting of chili starts at 5pm, awards will be presented around 6:30pm

The Carnival will arrive at the Rhone Park in Fortuna on Tuesday 11th July and will continue until 16th July. Carnival wristbands are sold daily for $35 for rides and games.

Also on July 11, the Redwood Village Mall will host a family event from 6pm to 8pm. Activities include face painting, Local Kick Club, HealthSPORT and Sprinkles deals.

Main Street in downtown Fortuna will host street games on Wednesday, July 12, including the Tony Johnson Penny Scramble, Stick Racing, Egg Toss and Bounce House. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served by a muster group from the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department. Street games are played from 6pm to 8:30pm

Likewise, Wednesdays start at 9 a.m. and continue on Thursdays with the Fortuna Jr. Rodeo, held at Rohner Park’s rodeo grounds.

Talmage’s Kolby Thornton competes in the turn-to-stop competition at the 2019 Fortuna Rodeo Juniors. (Shaun Walker/The Times Standard file photo)

On Thursday, July 13th, also on the main street in downtown Fortuna, the Firefighters Race will be held from 6:30pm to 8pm. Watch local fire volunteer firefighters take over Main Street using hose relays and more.

New to this year’s Thursday-Sunday event is the Fortuna Rodeo West Outpost. The four-day shopping event, sponsored by the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce, will feature Western-themed merchandise, gifts and more at the Firefighters Pavilion in Rona Park.

“I am delighted to host the inaugural Supplier Show during Fortuna’s annual rodeo and look forward to hosting this event for years to come,” said Chamber leader Kristin Chambers.

Contracted Fortuna Rodeo Western Outpost suppliers include Great Western, Diva Designs, Lost Coast Laser, Moon Baby Candles, Stephanie April Designs, Adore and Joy, T-Mobile, LeafFilter and Redwood Wishing Wells, Famous Amens, Sisters Clothing, Fortuna Rodeo Association and country clips. Thursday-Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 9am-4pm.

Start your day with a Fortuna Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast at The Kitchen Shack at Rohner Park on Saturday mornings from 7am to 10am. After breakfast, don’t miss the annual Fortuna Rodeo Parade, which starts at 11am along Main Street, and this year’s Grand Marshal is John Rice ) family.

“John and his family have ran ranches in Humboldt County and throughout the American West for many years, and with John’s untimely death earlier this year, we want to honor his family’s legacy,” McWhorter said. “John, Peggy and their family never miss the Fortuna Rodeo,” he added.

The annual Fortuna Rodeo, held every July, features pit grilling. (Mary Bullwinkle/The Times Standard)

Not only is Sunday the second day of the two-day rodeo, it’s also the day of the pit grill at the Fortuna Rodeo. Tickets are $20 per person and include hearty beef, baked beans, potato salad and rolls. The BBQ starts at 11am in Rohner Park near the chef’s shed.

McWatt said hosting a rodeo requires a community-wide effort. He expressed his gratitude to the City of Fortuna, the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce, the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department, and the numerous sponsors from throughout Humboldt County who have contributed to the success of the Fortuna Rodeo.


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