Eel River Valley teens take top honors at Fortuna Jr. Rodeo

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Not only did 17-year-old Fortuna resident Kelly O’Day claim the title of Sr. All-Around Cowboy in the Fortuna Jr. Rodeo, but he also captured the All-Around Champion saddle from the main Fortuna Rodeo event. O’Day is perhaps the youngest cowboy to win the Fortuna Rodeo All-Around Champion title.

Loleta resident Lauren Luna, 14, won her first saddle award for her performance in the 19th annual Fortuna Jr. Rodeo held last week at the rodeo grounds in Rohner Park. She claimed the title of Jr. All-Around Cowgirl, and took home a saddle, sponsored by Bear River Casino._Other saddle winners were Linda Johnson of Fort Jones, who won the Sr. Cowgirl saddle (sponsored by Umpqua Bank and Kevin Caballero), Masey Minton of Witter Springs, who won the Jr./Jr. Cowpoke saddle (sponsored by Coldwell Banker Cutten Realty), Wyatt Hansen of Oakdale, who won the Jr. Cowboy saddle (sponsored by American Ag Credit, Las Cazuelas, and Humboldt Land & Cattle Company), and Zane George, also of Oakdale, who won the Pee Wee saddle (sponsored by Diamond C Outfitters and Rice Construction).

A total of six saddles and 28 buckles were awarded to participants who ranged in age from 2 to 19.

"We had over 200 contestants," said Jr. Rodeo secretary Kris Williamson, "it was the best year ever."

She also said the Fortuna event is the biggest Jr. Rodeo in Northern California, and this year included participation from families throughout California and Oregon.

Buckle sponsors were Eel River Organic, 3 Star Logging, Shotz Coffee, Fales Family, Sequoia Gas, McWhorter Family Partnership, Heidi Olsen Insurance, Prestige Cattle Co., Rings Pharmacy, Humboldt Correctional Peace Officers Association, Don Brown Insurance, Johanna Rodoni, Wyckoff’s Plumbing, Accurate Termite and Pest, Victoria Copeland of Ming Tree, Johnny’s Flooring, Forbusco Lumber, California Redwood Company/Green Diamond Resource Company, the Ivanhoe, Bev’s Real Kids, Wendy and Trevor Harper, Billy "B" Bugenig, Lorie and Jim Cook, Murrish Market, Sequoia Orchids, and the Tim Jacobson family.