OAKHURST — Wall Street had nothing on Oakhurst Saturday morning when the Von’s shopping center was transformed into a bull market — with a 1,500-pound rodeo bull named Wizard pacing the parking lot across from the grocery store.
The eight-year-old animal, considered “rodeo royalty” according to his handlers, was at the shopping center to promote the upcoming Coarsegold Stampede Pro Rodeo, which gallops into Coarsegold next month on Sept. 14-15.
Last year, the popular event drew more than 3,000 spectators.
The fourth-annual Coarsegold Stampede PRCA Rodeo, sponsored by All In Pro Rodeos LLC, brings top-tier national rodeo competitors to the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, with more than 150 cowboys and cowgirls competing for $30,000 in prize money.
All In is actually operated by two couples with deep roots in the sport — Wes and Stacy Ibrahimi, who live outside San Diego and Dez and Alex Hauser, from Raymond.
The two couples put on about 30 pro rodeo events a year in California and surrounding states — and also manage the 50 bucking horses, more than 100 bulls — including Wizard — necessary to put on a national-caliber pro competition.
“This will be the fourth year the PRC circuit comes to Coarsegold,” Wes said Saturday while twirling a lasso in the Von’s parking lot. “We’re really excited to be able to bring this level of competition to the area.”
Ibrahimi and his partner Alex Hauser are both former pro rodeo competitors, still quick with a lasso but, at least according to Wes, “comfortable leaving the bull riding and bronc busting stuff for the younger guys.”
Wes had to scratch Wizard a few times between his ears to coax the 3/4-ton bull to pose for a photograph.
“Don’t get too close,” Wes cautioned. The seemingly gentle-tempered animal has thrown “more than his share” of cowboys.
Tickets for this year’s Coarsegold Stampede are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate for adults; $5 for kids 9 and under.
Advance tickets can be purchased at Robert’s Frosty in Coarsegold and Visit Yosemite | Madera County in Oakhurst.
Gates open Saturday (Sept. 14) at 4:30 p.m., with the rodeo beginning at 6 p.m. and dance starting at 9 p.m.
Gates open Sunday (Sept. 15) at 12:30 p.m., with the rodeo starting at 2 p.m.
The 2019 Stampede will also feature cornhole tournaments and food booths raising funds for local groups including FFA and Minarets and Yosemite High sports teams.
All In also will be hosting an Aug. 24 Kick Off Dance for the 2019 Stampede at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds.
And at 2019’s main event, Country music star Gethen Jenkins is the headline performer at (Sept 14) After Party and Dance, which offers free admission to those with rodeo tickets.
Coronation of the 2019 Stampede “royalty” will take place Sunday before the rodeo competition kicks off.
“This has always been my hobby,” said Gracie Graham, a 13-year-old from Ahwahnee is running for Stampede princess.
“My parents rodeo-ed when I was younger. I remember watching my dad ride bulls,” Gracie added as she waved to passing motorists from the Von’s parking lot Saturday morning.
Nine-year-old Kortley Westfall from Ahwahnee and her friend, Lilah Anderson, 8, were both sporting royalty sashes and ten-gallon cowboys hats Saturday. Both girls are competing for this year’s Little Princess title.
“The thing I like best about this is riding horses,” Kortley said while holding up a sign in the Von’s parking lot promoting the 2019 Stampede.
Auberry resident Alyssa Talent, 19, is the reigning 2018 Stampede queen.
“I got involved in the Stampede because I really love rodeo and the feelings I get from being with the crowd,” said Alyssa, a sophomore at Fresno State. “I’d like to help inspire a new generation of kids to get into rodeo, especially younger girls in the community.”