California Rodeo provides thrills, reminds attendees of California’s agricultural roots

Farm Credit proud to once again sponsor annual event

More than 50,000 fans from around the West – indeed, from around the world – were on hand this year during the four days that the California Rodeo rocked Salinas for the 109th time.

As one of the top 20 regular season rodeos out of 600 held nationwide each year, there were always lots of events for rodeo fans to see. But equally important is the impact the annual event has on the Salinas area and agriculture, said Leili Ghazi, chair of the Farm Credit Alliance and Senior Vice President of the Farm Credit Banking Group for CoBank.

“Here in the west, rodeos and farming and ranching go hand-in-hand. Many of the best contestants are farmers or ranchers or work for one of the two, and rodeos are a powerful reminder of the importance of agriculture not only historically but today as well,” Ghazi said. “That’s why Farm Credit has been a Champion Sponsor of the event since 2014, and we look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come.”

Mandy Linquist, the rodeo’s marketing manager, said that for Salinas – the Salad Bowl of the World – the impact is even greater.

To begin with, she said the 80-acre Salinas Sports Complex, where the rodeo is held each year, was built and is operated by the Rodeo on a 50-year lease with the city.

“The money we raise goes to maintaining the facility,” she said. “Besides the arena, there’s a football stadium where our high school and community college teams play and the Boys and Girls Club uses it for an outdoor play area. We also have softball and Little League fields and banquet halls.”

The new arena, which seats 16,670, opened in 1996, replacing a wood stadium built in 1924 after a major fund-raising drive mounted by the rodeo. The football stadium and other venues followed.

Beyond the facilities, she said the rodeo and other events held at the facility are a major fund-raiser for a wide range of area nonprofits, which provide food, sell programs, handle parking and numerous other functions. All in all, more than 30 nonprofits raise nearly $500,000 a year in revenue.

Additionally, for 32 years, proceeds have funded scholarships for students attending or graduating from Hartnell Junior College, a program that will be expanding in the near future.

All in all, the direct and indirect impact of the rodeo on the local economy exceeds $18 million a year.

Linquist said none of those benefits would happen without sponsors like Farm Credit.

“Maintaining this facility is very expensive, and without our sponsors it would be difficult to do any of it,” she said. “We really appreciate the generosity of Farm Credit and our other sponsors.”


About Farm Credit:

American AgCredit, CoBank, and Farm Credit West are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural communities with a dependable source of credit. For more than 100 years, the Farm Credit System has specialized in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services…everything a “growing” business needs. For more information, visit

About the California Rodeo:

The California Rodeo Association is a not-for-profit organization that strives to preserve and promote the traditions of the California Rodeo Salinas and the West. We support the community and other nonprofit organizations through the staging of the annual California Rodeo Salinas and other year-round operations of the Salinas Sports Complex. Through donation of our facility, vending and fundraising opportunities during Rodeo and other events, the California Rodeo Association returns almost $500,000 annually to local nonprofits. For more information, visit or call the California Rodeo Office at 831-775.3100. ‘Like’ the California Rodeo on Facebook at or follow us on twitter @CaliforniaRodeo for updates, photos and more.