For half a century, the Taos County Sheriff’s Posse has put on a great show for rodeo fans from near and far. This year’s event was one for the history books as the golden anniversary of the Rodeo de Taos attracted huge contestant pools and fans for two days of true American sport – showcasing both animal and human athleticism.
“Seven men had a vision for this rodeo,” said Ronnie Salazar, current outgoing Rodeo Captain who has served the Sheriff’s Posse as its fifth captain in the group’s long history. “They planted the seed that gave us this event that has truly become a part of Taos – a slice of the Taos experience that has been built up to what it is now.”
The original rodeo took place in 1967, and has never missed a year thanks to the dedication of the officers and members who have worked tirelessly to maintain the longstanding community show – often logging hundreds of volunteer hours in preparation for each year’s event.
And like clockwork, the latter part of June renders the traditions Taoseños have come to accept and expect, including the placement of the heavy-duty, black and white sign announcing the dates of the upcoming rodeo alongside the main road.
Adding to the bevy of rodeo events and youth activities that take place every year, members also prepare for other aspects of the event including the rodeo parade, rodeo dance, rodeo royalty and court, and fundraising efforts aimed at boosting the Sheriff’s Posse scholarship program.
Along with Salazar, Taos County Sheriff’s Posse officers in 2017 include: first lieutenant, Ruben Baca, Sr.; secretary, Merly James; treasurer, Ruben Baca, Jr.; corral sergeant, Dennis Johnson and mess sergeant, Arturo Suazo. Members include: Armando Galindo, Bernie Garcia, Christina Mares, David Mares, Ruben Martinez, Tim Martinez, Cipriano “Cippy” Medina, Danny Miller, David Montoya, Miguel Montoya, James Oakley, Dennis Salazar, James Salazar, Louie Tafoya, Joe Torres and Monica Wilder.
Joe Torres will serve as the next captain, taking over for Salazar who turns over the reins after serving in that capacity for the last 20 years.
Also turning over the reins during opening ceremonies June 24, were last year’s rodeo queen Cora Cannedy, and junior queen Odalys Galindo. Crowned as the 2017 Miss Rodeo de Taos Queen was Elizabeth Pacheco. She was joined by Miss Rodeo de Taos princess Jayden Salazar and Miss Rodeo de Taos Sweetheart Alexis Rosales. All members of the royalty are heavily involved in their respective 4-H clubs – raising animals such as rabbits, goats, ducks and chickens as their projects. Jayden Salazar also grows a flower garden.
Highlights of this year’s event include the work that was done to the roof of the main grandstand bleacher area prior to the rodeo itself. Due to heavy winds earlier in the year, sections of the old metal roof were torn away – causing huge holes in the roof. Crews worked throughout the week to complete the work on a new roof. It was a fitting final task for Ronnie Salazar, whose legacy included several improvements to the arena during his tenure.
In an interview at the conclusion of the rodeo weekend, Ronnie Salazar was optimistic about the direction of the Rodeo de Taos in the next 50 years. “Perhaps one of my grandkids will want to carry on this tradition and one day be captain,” said Salazar, who insists that he wants to somehow stay connected to the rodeo. “As long as this group stays committed to serving our community, I think it will stay strong.”