Santa Maria Elks Rodeo
For the first time in 77 years, the annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo has been canceled. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

The 2020 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, already rescheduled once because of the COVID-19 pandemic, won’t occur this year, marking the first break for the nearly eight-decade tradition.

The rodeo initially was planned for May 28-31 at the Santa Maria Elks Unocal Event Center and was rescheduled to Sept. 24-27 in hopes that the public health orders would ease and allow the event. 

“With heavy hearts, Elks Recreation has announced the cancellation of the 77th annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade,” organizers announced Friday, 48 days before the event.

“This decision has not been an easy one as it is the first break in our 77-year tradition, yet we are making the choice to respect our county and state leaders’ guidance and recommendations to protect the safety and well-being of our fans, volunteers, sponsors and contestants.”

Rodeo-related events such as mutton bustin’, Elks team roping, mini rodeo qualifier and Beard-a-Reno also have been canceled. 

“We are excited to say the Elks Rodeo Queen Contest will continue strong through their respective virtual programs,” organizers said. “We encourage our community to engage with our queen candidates for they are embarking on a unique year with a true spirit of determination to raise much-needed funds for their respective campaigns.”

This year’s queen campaign includes three contestants plus links to their fundraising pages — Sabrina Dana, representing United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County, Anna Kuykendall, representing St. Joseph High School, and Faith DeBrum of VTC Enterprises.

Through the years, the rodeo queen contestants and their supporters have raised more than $10 million for youth recreation and other programs. 

Under the current state orders, the rodeo office remains closed until Aug. 12.

Participants or season ticket holders to the rodeo or one of its related events can email any questions or concerns to

In an effort to unite the community with a similar family experience, the rodeo organizers announced plans for the inaugural “Christmas in the County,” described as a magical light experience. Displays will be presented by local businesses and families. 

If public health orders have eased by then, Christmas in the Country may include opportunities to enjoy hot chocolate, candy canes, Christmas trees and more to help bring out the holiday spirit in the community while following all county and state protocols.

Along with Christmas in the Country, Elks Rec announced “Stuff the Stocking” to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. Proceeds will go to the Golden Circle of Champions program that is devoted to raising awareness of childhood cancer and provides financial support to families enduring childhood cancer. 

The event, which also will involve the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department, will take place at the rodeo ground, 4040 S. Highway 101 in Santa Maria.  

To participate or for more information, call the rodeo office at 805.925.4125 or email

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.