SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The 2018 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade looks to be an event to remember. The Santa Maria showcase will have a theme this year of "Denim and Diamonds."
"2018 marks our 75th anniversary," said media director Johnna Clark. "We are so excited and we have so much to celebrate. This rodeo has come a long way in 75 years and has really come a long way in the last five years."
On Wednesday, rodeo organizers held a press conference to announce what's in store for the four-day event scheduled for May 31-June 3.
"It really is going to a be a look back at the tradition and the heritage that not just made the rodeo great, but the community great and in the last five years the community has come together to give back and to give more for everyone here," said Clark.
During the hour-long presentation, several announcements were made, including the naming of a new Elks Recreation president.
Peter Sterling takes over the spot previously held by Phil Harwick, who died two weeks ago.
Sterling is certainly no stranger to the rodeo. The longtime Elks Lodge member has been the Queen Contest Chairman for a combined 15 years.
He'll have large boots to fill. Sterling succeeds Harwick, who led the rodeo to unprecedented success over the past five years. Sterling was unable to attend Wednesday's press conference.
Tina Tonascia, who serves as Elks Recreation Chief Operating Officer, also announced a memorial will be dedicated in Harwick's honor during the rodeo.
"Harwick Hill" will be dedicated in his name with a commemorative rock on the hillside that overlooks the southern end of the Elks Unocal Event Center.
"He would always stand up there and watch over everything," said Tonascia. "We had a lot of conversations on that hill and a lot of decisions were made, so the Board of Directors has decided we'll be dedicating Harwick Hill in his memory and may he always be watching over us."
Other announcements included the return of many popular attractions, such as the Minetti Mini Rodeo, Queen Contest, Beard-A-Reno, Flying Cowboys, pre-rodeo concerts, stick horse races, dances, Camp Buckaroo, western marketplace, silver dollar coin dig and much more.
"There's music. There's entertainment. There's shopping. There's activities for the kids," said Clark. "There's always something new and exciting and surprises at every turn."
There will also be a handful of new attractions as well according to Clark, including different entertainment, a "Diamond Dig" for guys and cornhole tournament.
To help commemorate the special 75th anniversary, there will new merchandise available, including a limited edition anniversary belt buckle, Resistol cowboy hats and more.
There are many other activities lined up, including the always popular Elks Rodeo Parade. Scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 2, the parade will once again be broadcast live on KCOY 12.
Rodeo performances on Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3 will be livestreamed on the Wrangler Network.
For more information on the 75th Annual Elks Rodeo and Parade, visit www.elksrec.com