By RODNEY D. BOAM
Burnise Mecham, 90, remembers saddling up his Shetland pony when he was 10 years-old and riding from Riverdale the five miles to Preston for the Fourth of July Rodeo activities. He spent all day there, then rode his pony home.
“I would tie my pony to one of the telephone poles kind of where they are today and walk over to the rodeo.
Back then the rodeo arena had a parking lot around a fence where people would park to watch the rodeo, he said.
“I went to the parade at 10 a.m., then I would go downtown and buy an ice cream. At 2 p.m. I went to the rodeo,” Mecham said. “That was before they changed it to the night rodeo.”
By age 12 the Mecham family moved to Whitney. He played basketball all four years at Franklin High School.
The daytime rodeos had big bleachers with a fence around the arena. The chutes were on the north side and they let cars park around the fence if people wanted to watch it in their cars.
The stands were on the north side of where the area is today.
Since his first time as a youngster as long as he lived in Franklin County he tried to attend the rodeo. Except a stint with the Merchant Marines and a career as a parts man for a freight company in Pocatello, he attended the rodeo.
“I went to the first night rodeo. I was enthralled with the trick rider Monte Montana with his Palomino horses,” Mecham said. “I wanted to be like him.”
Monte Montana was not only a rodeo trick rider he was also an actor and stuntman. He was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1998.
“It was quite the thing, the first night rodeo in the world right here in Preston, that’s what I was told,” Mecham said.
The Preston Citizen reported the Franklin County Fair and Roundup was set for Aug. 21 and 22.
“For the first time in the history of Franklin County flood lights will be used to illuminate the rodeo grounds and night performances will be given both Friday and Saturday night,” the paper said. The use of these powerful lights will light the arena to daylight brilliancy and bring the people the pleasure of daytime performances in the cool of the evening.”
This story is sponsored by Minidoka Rodeo.
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