Beyond The Chutes: Vendor contributions to the 2024 Clovis Rodeo

Americal Legion Cecil Cox Post 147 has been selling concessions at the rodeo almost since the beginning (Photo by Samantha Golden, Clovis Roundup)

May 3, 2024 – The Clovis Rodeo has concluded its 110th year, standing as a testament to the unique blend of Western heritage and community spirit that defines the town of Clovis, CA. As we bid farewell, it’s time to look beyond the chutes and shine a spotlight on the unsung heroes of the event—the merchants who bring their goods and warmth to the festivities.

Greg Gillard, the Clovis Rodeo Association Director in charge of Vendors, offers praise for two steadfast supporters—Valley Wide Beverage and Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino—both of which played a pivotal role in bringing this year’s iconic event to life, ensuring that the cowboy spirit continues to flourish in Central California.

Gillard also shed light on the dynamic collection of merchant offerings that contributed to this year’s success and the overall unique charm of the Clovis Rodeo. “We had more new ones this year than in the past,” he revealed, underscoring the event’s growth and adaptability over the years. Gillard’s meticulous selection ensures a diverse array of merchants, from trade stalls aimed at commerce to nonprofit organizations deeply ingrained in the fabric of the community.

“Every year, especially for the last several years, I get far more applications than I can handle,” Gillard shares, speaking to the overwhelming interest from merchants eager to be part of the rodeo experience. His discerning approach ensures that only the most fitting merchants are chosen, preserving the rodeo’s distinct identity while offering attendees a wide range of options.

Gillard fondly reminisces about “Purse Diva”, a long-standing merchant, “her and her husband. They’ve been here every year that I have been doing this. And I don’t know how many years before that.” Other veteran merchants, such as “The Broke Rodeo Mom” and “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” add a sense of tradition and continuity to the event, drawing patrons back year after year.

The Clovis Rodeo also welcomes newcomers with open arms, injecting fresh energy and enthusiasm into the mix. Gillard recounts, “Navajo Ranch, it was a first time for them. Great gals, they were a lot of fun,” highlighting the vibrant collection of merchants that enriches the rodeo experience.

Amidst the collection of merchants, a sense of togetherness prevails, as Gillard explains, “They’re a bit of a diverse group. They all have one thing in common: They’re all really nice people.” This sentiment rings true as merchants from near and far converge on Clovis every year, becoming temporary residents of the town for the duration of the rodeo week. Their presence fosters a sense of kinship and belonging, enriching the rodeo experience for all who attend. “I think they become Clovis residents for that week,” Gillard remarks, highlighting the merchants’ immersion in the local culture and their integral role in fostering a welcoming environment.

Beyond the tangible offerings, merchants contribute to the intangible essence of the rodeo—a celebration of family, tradition, and community spirit. “What we try to do with the rodeo, in general, is just provide a good family atmosphere,” Gillard remarks, encapsulating the overarching ethos that underpins the event.

The meticulous balance struck by Gillard ensures a harmonious blend of offerings, preventing oversaturation while preserving the rodeo’s distinct identity. “It’s all about trying to find merchandise that ties into what we are doing here,” he explains, emphasizing the importance of aligning merchants with the event’s Western heritage and ethos.

As the sun sets on another exhilarating year, one thing remains abundantly clear: it’s not just a spectacle; it’s a cherished tradition that unites generations and embodies the timeless spirit of the American West. With dedicated vendors serving as custodians of this legacy, the Clovis Rodeo continues to thrive as a beacon of community, camaraderie, and cowboy culture.