The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Dal Bunn
contributing writer 

A look back at Tehachapi Mountain Festival Rodeo

Mountain Festival 2022


August 13, 2022

How did we get here you ask? In the early 1960s the Business Men’s Association, along with other interested Service Clubs, jointly sponsored a three-day celebration spotlighting local agriculture and recreation opportunities found within the Tehachapi Valley.

Thus the “Mountain Fruit Festival” was born along with the Kiwanis Club inaugural “Little Britches Rodeo.” Those first years, the Kiwanis held the rodeo on property in Golden Hills, which later became Austin Acres/Old Town Stables.

In 1967, the name of the festival was changed to, “The Tehachapi Mountain Festival.” In 1968, the Kiwanis moved the arena with the help of their President, Fred Patterson, to its current home on Dennison Road. In the early 70s Gene Clark Junior Rodeos made their debut with a rodeo geared toward youngsters ages 6-16. This was also the first year of the Junior Rodeo Queen Pageant, featuring young ladies ages 6-16.

The Tehachapi Rodeo officially became part of the Mountain Festival and the Festival Committee took over management of the rodeo in 1975.

The Tehachapi Mountain Festival Rodeo became an open rodeo in 1977 and remained as such until 1985 when it joined the ranks of the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). The Festival Committee/Chamber of Commerce and many good-hearted community citizens worked diligently to help the Tehachapi Mountain Festival PRCA Rodeo evolve into one of the finest rodeos in the California Circuit until 1997 when the independent Tehachapi Mountain Rodeo Association [a 501(c)(3)] was formed. It included a dozen strong members who came together and spent about six months a year putting the two-day event together.

Today, TMRA members work year round in preparation for a venue that now includes the Benz Bad Bulls event, which has been held every July Fourth for 22 years; six junior rodeos, with a standalone committee that awards over $20,000 in cash and prizes annually; and the PRCA rodeo that runs in conjunction with Mountain Festival every year, awarding over $70,000 in prize money to our contestants. Our community proudly supports one of the top 35 rodeos in the state of California, and brings over $500,000 into our community annually. Additionally, the TMRA has consistently donated approximately $50,000 to charitable causes within the community.

None of the success today would be possible without the continued partnership with the City of Tehachapi on the Event Center and Rodeo Grounds. As well as our many fine Foundation and community sponsors that remain loyal to the cause annually, so the TMRA can produce the biggest show in town – cultivating our western heritage and promoting our western values and way of life. It takes a village, and ours is strong.


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