By Raiza Giorgi
One of the many highlights of this year’s Santa Maria Elks Rodeo will be seeing Solvang School second-grader Caleb Moon performing as the rodeo’s “junior barrelman.”
The 76th annual Elks Rodeo will be May 30 to June 2 at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center, with the rodeo parade planned for June 1.
Caleb, 8, is the only fourth-generation student at Solvang Elementary School.
“Caleb always puts 110 percent into everything he does, and I know that he will represent our family and the Santa Ynez Valley well as he entertains the crowds at the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade this year,” said his mother, Robyn Christian Moon.
Caleb also competes in the Central Coast Classic Junior Rodeo Association, where he placed in the top five of the Dummy Roping event at his first rodeo on April 21, at the Branquinho Ranch in Los Alamos.
His favorite activity is his horseback riding lessons, where he is learning how to rope and work cattle.
The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo holds a special place in Caleb’s family. His grandmother, Mindi Jaeger Christian, competed in the 1972 queen contest and his mother, Robyn Christian Moon, reigned as the 2001 Santa Maria Elks Queen. They both represented Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation during their campaigns. Even Caleb’s teacher, Jodi Rogers, represented the valley as the 1986 Santa Maria Elks Queen.
After competing in the Mutton Bustin’ event at the 75th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, Caleb had a desire to return to that arena someway, somehow. He chose to compete in the Junior Barrelman Competition, which is intended for the winner to be an ambassador for the Elks Rodeo and an inspiration to his community.
“The reason Caleb chose the red, white and blue theme for his costume with the Stars and Stripes make-up is to honor our country’s active military and veterans and thank them for their service,” his mom said proudly.
“We are pretty proud of that,” said Tina Tonascia, chief operations officer. “For Santa Maria to be back in the ranks of the top rodeos is huge.”
Of the roughly 600 rodeos across the nation, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tour features 59 stops, five of which are in California. That includes Santa Maria, Red Bluff, Clovis, Redding and Salinas.
Santa Maria’s rodeo will also be among 30 that are broadcast live on WranglerNetwork.com on June 1 and 2.
For other rodeo-related activities and information, visit www.elksrec.com.