My almost favorite event is happening at the Tehama District Fairground right this minute.
If you’ve never been to the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale, go ahead and give ‘er a try.
Even if you don’t like bulls or geldings, it won’t matter a bit. There’s something for everyone inside the trade show and all over the grounds.
I don’t raise bulls and I’m not really a cowgirl per se, but this place has so many exciting things to see and do. It doesn’t really matter if you live out west or call downtown Corning or Red Bluff home; this is just a fun place to be this week.
Let’s start with the trade show.
I like to stop inside the Bloody Mary tent first, just to get my vegetables in, and then wander around the grounds. It’s sunny this year, so I’m going to start by wandering the outside booths. Today, the trade show starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m.
I enjoy looking at all the latest gadgets to improve the health and well being of livestock but there’s also stuff for regular people, like you and me.
There’s usually some fancy outdoor barbecue pits or bars and tables on display and other unusual lawn and garden products you don’t find at the local Ace Hardware or Tractor Supply stores.
Fifteen or so years ago, my mom had her heart set on this hammered metal bar with a custom walnut wood top and matching stools. Turns out, this very sturdy piece of furniture has outlived her and now my sister enjoys this well-loved hand me down.
Vendors from Arizona, Canada, Colorado and all points in between have something unusual and exciting on display. Trust me, you don’t have to live on a cattle ranch to buy something or even window shop.
Last year, my girlfriend from Susanville and I bought wild wools. These are neck scarves made from authentic Pendleton wool blankets. You snap these little neck warmers on and fold them down and, voila, you’ve just dressed up an outfit in a jiffy.
Sadly, my girlfriend all the way back from our days at Cal Poly never got to wear her scarf. Before she could rescue most of her clothing items, the Dixie Fire swallowed them up along with the family home. Luckily, her husband rescued a few storage tubs of the important stuff; that’s all he had time to gather.
This year, we’re going to meet for lunch on Friday and I hope to surprise her with a brand new replacement.
Of course, there’s tri tip sandwiches, pulled pork, and every other food item you can imagine. Red Bluff’s own Gus Bettman is usually serving up beer and stories near the food court just south of the Pauline Davis Pavilion.
I like the crowd, too. They’re a lot more mellow than the Red Bluff Round-Up crew, and very knowledgeable about the events. They won’t mind answering questions if you’d like to watch the stock dog trials or watch the judging of the halter bulls.
But my personal favorite is the gelding show. Thursday morning, they will be shown at halter in order of youngest to oldest. They’ll be evaluated by veterinarians and sifted if they don’t meet the necessary and strict health standards. And then at 6:30 Thursday night, they will select the top conformation horses for Friday night’s sale.
Friday morning, the remaining horses will compete in snaffle bit or hackamore (no bit in the mouth), stock horse, and roping events inside the Pauline Davis Pavilion. It’s quite a show and the highlight is the selection of the Craig Owens Ideal Ranch Horse.
But my favorite part of the week is running into my childhood neighbor and lifelong friend.
Every year, first generation cattle rancher Rich Guintoli of Escalon, converges on Red Bluff with his posse to find the perfect bulls for his females. We find each other in the crowd and share a few giggles of our early days pretending to be cowboys and Indians.
We whittled tree branches into makeshift bows and arrows and either tried to shoot or stab ourselves while horseback. When one of us would get ‘shot’ or ‘stabbed,’ we’d fall off our Shetland and Welsh ponies, and play dead for a long time.
As we got older, we practiced team roping and he taught me the finer points of chewing tobacco. After a few tries, I discovered it really wasn’t worth the dry heaves and dizziness to become good at the art of pinching a wad between my cheek and gum, as Chris Ledoux would say.
Maybe that’s why I like the Bull and Gelding Sale. It takes me back to a time when life was easy, when my mom and I would ride horses in the hills for hours; when kids shooting and stabbing each other was a cool game and not some warning sign of bad things to come.
Ah, I miss the good old days.
Shanna Long is a fourth generation journalist and former editor of the Corning Daily Observer. She and her husband reside in Corning and farm almonds, walnuts and prunes. She can be reached at [email protected], instagram @sjolong.