Ryan Chartrand

Poly Royal Rodeo is not just another competition.

It is considered, by several rodeo team members, one of the oldest and most prestigious rodeos on the West Coast. Its awards are coveted by cowboys and cowgirls in both the collegiate and professional ranks.

It is like a Notre Dame football game for rodeo, team member Ben Londo said.

“It is one of the best buckles to win,” Cal Poly rodeo coach Tony Branquinho said, adding that buckles from Poly Royal Rodeo and the pro rodeo held in Salinas are the top two to win in California.

The rodeo club was established in 1949, Branquinho said. This is the 67th Poly Royal Rodeo.

“Out of the 10 rodeos we have in the region, it has been around the longest,” Branquinho said.

This year’s rodeo will be held at 6 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday. A dance at the San Luis Obispo Veteran’s Hall will follow the performance Saturday.

Tickets for the event can be bought in front of Campus Market. Tickets for the rodeo will be sold at the gate. Dance tickets will be sold separately for $20 in a limited amount. Rodeo tickets are $8 for students and seniors, $10 for adults and children under 6 get in free.

Friday will be “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, for which merchandise will be sold to generate funds for breast cancer research in San Luis Obispo, Branquinho said.

Twelve colleges will be competing for buckles and also a place in the standings. Poly Royal is one of the last rodeos and the results can determine who goes to nationals in June, Branquinho said.

Both Cal Poly’s men’s and women’s teams are currently sitting second in the West region. In single events, at least two team members sit in the top 10.

“This year we have got a really great team going to the College National Finals Rodeo,” team member Josh Verburg said.

The club not only uses its skills in the arena, but around the arena as well. It is responsible for all the maintenance and feeding livestock.

“The club members get the job done as far as maintenance, feeding and everything else,” Verburg said.

Poly Royal Rodeo is one of the only events the club puts on to raise money. The money earned from the rodeo goes back into the club, Verburg said.

“This arena was built by the kids using it,” he said. “We do this because we love to do it. Whether we are making money or not, we would still do it.”

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