Kevin Merrill

Kevin Merrill

The past couple of weeks have been busy, starting with the Memorial Day holiday, a short work week and ending with the Elks Rodeo weekend.

It’s always nice to get a day off from work, but then it seems like I am trying to catch up the rest of the week after taking Monday off. Couple that with helping our daughter Kathleen get ready for Rodeo as a sponsor flag carrier, and our son Clayton announcing the night before his ASB class at school was having a tri-tip barbecue lunch at school, and he volunteered me to cook the tri-tip.

No problem, we got it all done.

Kathleen wanted me to follow her to the rodeo grounds to make sure she did not get her pickup and trailer stuck in the sand before the first performance on Thursday morning. She pulled into the parking area just fine and from then on, she was on her own and feeling a little more confident.

I had a labor issue to care of at work, and after that it was home to the barbecue pit to get lunch ready for the ASB class lunch/party at 12:30 at Orcutt Academy High School. I made it to the school office by 12:15 with the tri-tip, sliced and ready to serve with salsa.

It does help out now Kathleen can, for the most part, take care of hauling her horses where she needs to go. I’m not sure most people attending the Elks Rodeo appreciate how much hard work and volunteer hours the flag sponsor girls, the ladies in charge and the support crew put in for the event.

Most of the girls are in high school or college, with a few lady veterans staying on to help the new girls relax and carry the flags safely around the arena. Each girl is responsible for getting her horse to and from the practices and Rodeo performances on time. Their horses have to be kept in top shape or they are not allowed to participate.

After one of the last practices before the Rodeo, the girls, along with members of their families, help spruce up the rodeo grounds by either painting corrals or cleaning up weeds. I think I still have a pair of pants in my closet covered with white paint spots that I wore during our first cleanup day. The next year I brought a weed eater.

The girls always look sharp when they come out into the arena carrying their flags, complete with their black hats, pants and matching Elks Rodeo shirts/blouses, which they purchase every year. Although not a requirement, most girls buy a beautifully engraved Elks Rodeo belt buckle to go along with their western outfits.

After Friday night’s rodeo performance Kathleen loaded up her horse Gunner and brought him home for the night. She was up feeding him at 5:15, and he was back in the trailer at 6, headed out to meet the rest of the girls and get ready for the parade at 9 a.m. in Santa Maria.

The young ladies who carry the sponsor flags are part of a small army of volunteers that helped make this year’s Elks Rodeo weekend in Santa Maria so successful. Congratulations on another great event!

With last week behind me, I can go back to work and rest up.

Kevin Merrill: A very wet, cold, busy February
Kevin Merrill: Plenty of rain and good safety training

Kevin Merrill of Mesa Vineyard Management is a board member of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, and a director on the Santa Barbara County Fair Board. He can be reached at


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