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Gilroy Rodeo Spotlight: Escaramuza El Centenario

The annual Gilroy Rodeo will take place on August 11, 12 & 13, 2023, with three days of exciting events! You will see many of the fun rodeo events you expect, along with some impressive and entertaining specialty acts.

Escaramuza El Centenario

One of these specialty acts is Escaramuza El Centenerio, an all-female group of riders who perform an incredible routine on horseback. Their performance consists of twelve movements in eight minutes set to music. Did we mention that they do all this riding side-saddle…while maintaining a full gallop…and wearing dresses?!

a group of seven women in bright pink and white traditional indigenous Mexican costumes ride side saddle on horses in a row

Emily McCartney Photography

Escaramuza (which means “skirmish” in Spanish), were originally male-only teams that originated in the 1950s. In 1992, they became female-only teams that perform in Charreria, a very competitive Mexican rodeo and equestrian event. The Charreria, a national sport, encapsulates the Spanish-influenced Mexican ranching and herding culture from the 1700s and includes Indigenous style costumes, music, dance, and food.

Emily McCartney Photography

In Escaramuza, women are trained for years to master drills in a very precise manner, while still appearing elegant and graceful. They wear intricate, colorful costumes that are patterned after the traditional outfits worn by Adelitas, women who fought in the Mexican Revolution. They include ruffled, flowing skirts and traditional, wide-brimmed sombreros.

a group of women in traditional Mexican costumes or orange and green sit on horses in a row

Emily McCartney Photography

Gilroy Rodeo is fortunate to have had the local Escaramuza El Centenario team (from neighboring San Martin) participate for the past several years, and the group will be back once again for this year’s festivities. They often have trick ropers accompany them, as well. Be sure to attend on Saturday or Sunday to see these talented performers at the Gilroy Rodeo!

a young girl sits side saddle on a horse in a traditional Mexican dress of orange and green

Emily McCartney Photography


Send in the Clown

a man dressed in a collage of clothing and face painted like a clown sitting on a quad with a frame around it

Jada Ignacio Photgraphy

Another specialty act performing at this year’s rodeo is Nate “Shotgunn” Reed—the rodeo clown and barrel man. Nate, a former bull fighter, entertains crowds with his wit and his exciting stunts and acts. His “rolling quad” is always a fan favorite!

a man dressed as a cowboy clown is rolling a somersault on a quad with a frame around it

Jada Ignacio Photography

What You Need to Know to Rodeo

The Gilroy Rodeo (August 11, 12 & 13, 2023) includes many exciting events you won’t want to miss! Get your tickets now for this three-day event.

The Buckin’ Bash

Friday opens with the Buckin’ Bash, with all things that buck. Cheer on the brave and daring bull riders, bareback riders, saddle bronc riders, and more.

a man rides on the back of a bucking bull at night at a rodeo

Photographer: Matt Cohen

Ropin’ & Ridin’

On Saturday afternoon, catch the cute but crazy kids—future rodeo stars!—as they hold on to their sheep in the mutton-busting competition. Saturday and Sunday both have exciting pre-show ceremonies, featuring the Gilroy Rodeo Flag Team, drill teams, visiting royalty (rodeo queens), and more.

a child holds onto the back of a sheep at a rodeo

Photographer: Matt Cohen

Don’t miss a moment of the CCPRA (California Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association) acts, which include tie-down roping, breakaway roping, barrel racing, bull riding, bareback riding, and saddle bronc riding, team roping, flag teams, and more.

a photo of a cowboy on a horse with a rope in the air

Photographer: Matt Cohen

Enjoy delicious foods and drinks and fun, western-themed items from the fun variety of vendors. Each day closes with live music and dancing with country music. Check out the full schedule for more details.


Find Western Flair in Downtown Gilroy

The rodeo itself only lasts for three days, but the cowboy spirit of the Wild West lasts all year long in Gilroy!

Line Dancing at Old City Hall

The outside entrance of the Old City Hall Restaurant

Speaking of dancing, if you’re in town on a Wednesday night, head downtown to the Old City Hall Restaurant—which at one time housed the local city hall and police station, and for a time, a fire station. You can join in for line dancing lessons and dancing in the upstairs room from 6-9 pm. Whether you’re a beginner or you can nail the latest dance trends, you are all welcome. You’ll also have fun checking out the restrooms, which are located in the old jail cells.

an old jail cell in the old city hall in Gilroy


Horseshoe Bar at The Milias Restaurant

Ready to hit the local watering hole? Giddy up to the historic horseshoe-shaped bar at the The Milias Restaurant, where you can feel the nostalgia of Gilroy’s western days of the past. The Milias became the place to be during Gilroy’s “Cowboy Era.” Members of the Gilroy Gymkhana Committee, an active rodeo group from 1929-1956, gathered here.

people sit at a horseshoe-shaped bar in a restaurant while a bartender makes drinks

Hall’s Western Wear was conveniently located just across the street, and George Milias himself owned his own cattle ranch on Pacheco Pass. The cowboy mural over the bar depicts this era.

Black tables, chairs and tablecloths at The Milias Restaurant

Fun Rodeo Fact: Hall’s Western Wear had a life-size plastic model of Casey Tibbs and his horse War Paint, a famous rodeo cowboy from the “Cowboy Era” above their store downtown, which remained there for many years. This iconic figure was finally removed during the early 2000s and then re-appeared at the Gilroy Rodeo when it opened. You will see it just inside the entrance when you walk in. Casey and War Paint also inspired the new Gilroy Rodeo logo.

a plastic life-size model of a rodeo cowboy on a bucking horse surrounded by hay bales and vendor tents in the background

Casey Tibbs & War Paint


Saddles & Treasures

a wheelbarrow with hay and a saddle and American flag sits on the sidewalk outside a beige and turquoise store

Whether you’re looking for the perfect rodeo outfit or just want to pick up some western accessories or treasures, you can find it all at Saddles & Treasures in downtown Gilroy.

a western store with saddles, cowboy hats, and pictures on display

a store with western items including steer horns up on the wall

The only full tack store within an hour’s radius, this store also features reasonably-priced, gently-used tack, barn goods, and western-style clothing, boots, clothing, jewelry, and antiques. They also feature horse and western style art–with some by local artists. Pick yourself up a cowboy hat, boots, belt, and jewelry for the Gilroy Rodeo and some fun knick-knacks to take home as a memory of your visit.

turquoise boots and other western wear and items in a store


More Equestrian Adventures

For more horse experiences, such as a “Ranch Experience” at a local ranch, check out our blog on other Equestrian Experiences in the area.

man in cowboy hat leading a horse with a boy in purple shirt on it with green hills in background

For a unique experience, read our Horseback Trail Rides + Wine Tasting = A Perfect Pairing blog on trail rides through the beautiful Santa Clara Valley or the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, conveniently followed by a visit to a local winery.

a group of horseback riders on a trail going past a fenced area with grassy and trees along both sides

a group is riding horses through the redwoods


California Welcome Center Gilroy

You can find plenty more fun things to do in Gilroy, and while you’re in town, be sure to mosey on over to the California Welcome Center Gilroy for souvenirs and other great resources.

an exterior picture of the California Welcome Center with glass windows, green tiles along the bottom, and a blue vinyl cling on the right window