Founded in 1953 by 25 local businessman to promote rodeo week and the Redding Rodeo, the one-of-a-kind Asphalt Cowboys are known for their yellow shirts, green neckerchiefs, and loud side arms. One of the West’s most unique and colorful groups aid in the promotion of the Shasta County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo, now the Redding Rodeo Association.
The Asphalt Cowboys’ stated purpose is: “To aid and assist, in any way deemed lawful, in helping the Redding Rodeo Association in the promotion of the Redding Rodeo.” The Cowboys began this association helping to prepare the Top Hand Dinner, helping with the Rodeo Parade, and organizing and running the other Rodeo Week activities. The closeness of the Cowboys and the Redding Rodeo Association can be seen in the Cowboys’ decision to build adjacent to the Redding Rodeo Arena.
Both clubs agree that their favorite Rodeo Week activity is the joint “Special Kids Day” where the Rodeo Association provides horses and both clubs provide manpower to assist children with special needs in having the opportunity to ride a horse and wagon around the rodeo arena. This activity held a special place in the heart of Sheriff John Balma, who recognized the importance of introducing horses to all kids!
The Asphalt Cowboys have been involved in many other activities beyond Rodeo Week. Beginning in the late 1950’s the Cowboys have been included in many Redding and Shasta County events including organizing, with the City of Redding, the Women’s AAU National Swim Meet, the dedication of Whiskeytown Dam and Lake, hosting bar-b-ques for the Redding’s championship Women’s Softball Team, cooking breakfast for the Redding Jazz Festival, Relay for Life breakfasts, REU Energy Fair breakfasts and lunches, Air Show breakfasts, among many others.
Today, the Cowboys participate in many annual events including Kool April Nites breakfast, Cottonwood Rodeo Parade, Shasta Damboree Parade, Red Bluff Round-Up Parade, and Burney Basin Days Parade. While typically composed of business owners and key employees, several Cowboys have also been active in local government including the Redding City Council and Shasta County Board of Supervisors. These servants include George Fleharty, Herb Hollyfield, Claude Caldwell, Bud Puryer, Arch Pugh, Dave McGeorge, John Mathenia, Pat LaPointe, John Strange, and John Reit.