by Paul R. Spitzzeri
For many years, the Homestead has staffed a booth at the Industry Hills Charity Pro Rodeo, which held its 32nd annual event this weekend, and it gives us a chance to promote the city-owned and funded museum to attendees.
Over the course of the two-day event, nearly 300 people stopped by to learn about the museum, its programs, local history, and enjoy activities. These latter included designing and drawing a cow, looking at old stereoscopic photographs through a modern stereopticon, and taking photos on a wooden horse loaned by the La Puente Valley Historical Society.
It continues to be the case that many local residents either have not heard of the Homestead or have, but have not visited. Hopefully, we can get many of them to come down and take a tour, attend a festival like our upcoming Ticket to the Twenties, or go to some other program.
One of the more interesting visitors to drop by was a man from The Netherlands, who advises farmers, mainly dairy operators, on how to improve their business skills. He brings about a dozen Dutch farmers to California each year to meet dairy operators here, who are Dutch or descended from Dutch migrants.
In talking to him, I learned that, though his group, which arrived yesterday, normally would make the first full day of a whirlwind twelve-day trip one of visiting tourist staples like Universal Studios or Disneyland, the leader learned about the rodeo from an Internet search and surprised his group with a visit.
Having attended several rodeos over a roughly quarter century, I’ve noticed, too, that the appeal of the rodeo may remain generally the same in terms of attracting those who like rodeos, are horse lovers, or who have some other interest in ranching. But, because of the evolving demographic changes in our area, the ethnic makeup of visitors has transformed.
Whereas in the early 1990s, a great many of rodeo-goers were Anglo, the majority of visitors now are Latino. Most of these probably come from rural areas, where ranching traditions remain important to them, especially as they’ve settled in a different country. So, the rodeo is a significant way for them to remain in touch with tradition and feel something of a familiar connection to their hometowns and former places of residence.
In addition to the activities at our booth, there were display boards discussing the history of rodeos through the museum’s interpretive time period of 1830-1930 and acrylic cases exhibited original rodeo-related artifacts from the Homestead’s collection, including photographs and programs dating from 1912 to 1929. One of the objects was a 1912 program for a rodeo on the Rancho Santa Anita, lately owned by Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin, and which was the focus of a post here two days ago.
These artifacts prove to be of interest to many rodeo attendees, who are intrigued by seeing images and other material going back at least 85 years, and it is gratifying to know that the museum’s collection continues to be utilized in a variety of ways that educate and entertain our visitors.
Finally, we can’t maintain a presence at the rodeo without the assistance of paid and volunteer staff members, especially as we are within a couple of weeks of our biggest festival event, Ticket to the Twenties, of the year.
So, thanks are given to Alexandra Rasic, our director of public programs; Programs Manager Gennie Truelock; and volunteers Dennis Pearson, Julian Spitzzeri, Patrick Utter, and Diana Ybarra for all of their help this weekend.