In the Arena

This is reprint from an earlier Lake County Examiner. 

By 1930, talking pictures at the new Marius Theatre were the talk of the town during the 11th Annual Round-Up, until a cowboy named Eddie Woods rode into the arena.

According to the report in the Lake County Examiner, Woods’ performance in 1930 was “one of the most spectacular performances ever witnessed in a Lakeview arena.”

Indeed, as Woods rode towards the championship honors that he would claim in 1930, he had fans harking back to the glory days of Richardson.

In the 1940s, war weighed heavy on the minds of the county’s residents.  Indeed, only in Lake County was a bomb-related fatality recorded in the continental United States.

For the war-weary residents, however, the Round-Up continued.  The event also continued to produce memorable championship performances.  By the ‘40s, the premier event of the Round-Up was the saddle bronc riding competition and contestants were limited to “residents of Lake County or of those counties adjoining,” including, Klamath, Deschutes, Harney and Modoc.  

Winners of the saddle bronc event seemed to steal the headlines year after year from the winners of the other events that the Round-Up had become known for.

Jack Conlan, a cowboy from Fort Bidwell, Calif., was one of the top performers during the ‘40s.  Conlan was that decade’s only repeat winner in the prestigious saddle bronc event, copping the top honors in 1944 and 45.

Conlan was actually one of many local rodeo performers who excelled at the Round-Up during the war years and the immediate post-war period.  

Among the cowboys who claimed saddle bronc wins during the rodeo competitions of the ‘40s were Ross Dollarhide Jr. of the MC Ranch, and Ray Blasingame of Paisley.  

Blasingame, who also won titles in the late ‘40s, perhaps enjoyed his finest year during the 28th annual Round-Up in 1947, when he claimed both the bronc riding and the calf roping titles.  The decade of the 1950s opened with another local boy doing well at the Lake County Round-Up.

Lakeview’s own Johnny Bailey won the saddle bronc title that year, as well as the first go-round in bull riding.  His third-place showing in the second go-round of the bull-riding event further cemented his claim as the 1950’s top cowboy at Lakeview.

A variety of cowboys grabbed the spotlight throughout the ‘50s, and not all of them had to win the saddle bronc title to claim their fame.

By 1957, the honor of being “the all-around” cowboy at the Lake County Round-Up was beginning to grow.

Frank Santos, a cowboy from Walnut Creek, Calif., stole some of the spotlight from the saddle bronc title winners for a change.  Santos was named the best all-around cowboy and garnered all of the headlines while two cowboys had to share the glory of winning the saddle bronc riding finals.

For the record, Sunny Wilcox and Cliff Coburn split the saddle bronc honors in 1957.

For the most part, however, throughout the ‘50s the saddle bronc winners continued to claim most of the headlines for their memorable performances.  A variety of cowboys were able to bask in the fame during the decade.

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