It's time for a round up of the latest Mother Lode Roundup and, despite it's 51-year run, this multi-faceted event continues to be a colorful and curious blend of tradition and change. Mixing old and new doesn't always work. Few community celebrations, however, can match the variety of this Western gathering that all but takes over the region each May.
Perhaps nothing brings out both the expected and unexpected more than the Roundup parade that draws tens of thousands to downtown Sonora on the Saturday before Mother's Day every year. This year's procession was living proof.
As so many witnessed, the tradition came in the form of the Tuolumne County sheriff, a newly-crowned Roundup queen, this year the multi-talented Jessica Haynie, and the county Sheriff's Posse leading the long line of entries with pride and style.
We also expected and enjoyed the show of old cars, young dancers and colorful floats put together by all sorts of civic and religious groups and businesses.
Again came the spirited and patriotic Shriners, the rowdy Clampers and, of course, horses of just about every size and color.
But with these Roundup regulars came elements of surprise, those moments that keep parade goers who come year after year knowing that no two are ever alike.
The Twain Harte Horseman's entry was just one example. This equestrian group has had members ride in the parade for decades. But this year, in honor of the group's 60th anniversary, some 60 members rode their mounts or rolled up Washington Street in horse-drawn wagons. They even made the task of getting dozens of horse-and-rider teams into in some semblance of order look look easy. For all their efforts they took a top prize galloping away with the Sweepstakes award.
OnStage Dance took the Tuolumne Cup for their "Alice in Wonderland," performance. They have competed for six years and taken the Tuolumne Cup four times. They're serious about their fun.
The Golden Regiment Band continues to be a show stopper. This year, the pride of Sonora High School was overseen by a new band director, Greg Grant, who had the musical troupe perform new songs, new routines. And, as always, the crowd roared with approval.
Then the activity moved to the Mother Lode Fairgrounds where more than 500 ate breakfast Sunday during the annual Mother's Day Breakfast. There were a lot of corsages and multi-generational families eating together, including Patricia O'Brien, the Roundup's Mother of the Year, who ate with her family.
The culmination, of course, is the rodeo. Few events are more steeped in tradition than these shows of bronc riding, barrel racing, calf scrambles and more. But the line-up of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association competitors and the literally flying performances they give can never be duplicated.
Overall, the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse, itself a group of both longtime members and new blood, once again pulled off a huge parade, months-long queen pageant, two-day rodeo, barbecue, dance, fashion show ... the list goes on.
We applaud them and their persistent dedication to giving the Sierra foothills a show each May that embraces community, tradition and the fact that every Roundup also brings new highlights, new memories.
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties