Spring Events in Three Rivers, Sequoia National Park

02/21/2012  | 

Tunnel log in Sequoia National Park. Photo by Luise and Sebastien.

Spring is an exciting time to visit Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park!  You can hike into the hills and view an amazing array of wildflowers, ride the crazy rapids of the roller coaster Kaweah River with the assistance of our local whitewater guides, fish for rainbow trout in the Main, East and Marble Forks of the Kaweah River, pack a picnic lunch and watch the annual Bathtub Race for charity which begins just as Lake Kaweah is filling up with melting snow, gaze in awe at baby bears making their first ever appearance in Crescent Meadow, and watch city folk line up in Giant Forest to drive their car under Tunnel Log.  There is something for every one and every interest under the sun!

If we seem a little distracted, humor us, for we have more than a few events to be preparing for in the spring time:

  • High Sierra Traditional Jazz Band in concert at the Three Rivers Veterans Memorial Building
  • A brand-new bluegrass festival in town

  • Three Rivers Artists’ Biennial Studio Tour
  • 39th Annual Traditional Jazz Festival which we call “Jazzaffair”
  • 62nd Annual ACTRA Team Roping with fun events for the youngest cowboys to the not-so-young
  • Redbud Arts & Crafts Festival
  • Chamber music concerts by internationally recognized virtuosos,
  • Concerts by the Tulare County Symphony at the historic Fox Theater in nearby Visalia,
  • Celebration honoring our Military/Veterans on the last Friday in March
  • The hilarious Bathtub Race for charity at Lake Kaweah
  • Three Rivers Hidden Garden Tour,
  • Spring Half Marathon,
  • Monthly “1st Saturday in Three Rivers” festival of food/fun/art
  • Trail Horse Clinic for Arena Trail and Extreme Cowboy Trail, and much much more

For more information about these, and other activities, check out the Events Page at http://threerivers.com/

Take Your R&R 

Tired of all that activity?  Take some well-deserved R&R under ancient sequoia trees and more stars than you’ve seen since you were knee-high to a grasshopper!  Catch -and release - a firefly, watch honey bees work their way through standing orchards of citrus trees and stone fruit while you fill your lungs with the fragrance of their perfume, relax at the water’s edge and let the river’s flow mesmerize you, feel the warmth of the sun as it paints our peaks a soft rosy hue before slipping over the horizon.  We have a big welcoming heart, here in the Sequoia Foothills, and that is especially true when it comes to our Military. We hope to see you soon. 

Annual Roping Event

Dates: April 26, 2012 - April 29, 2012

The origins of this annual roping event in Three Rivers, CA go all the way back to the annual spring picnics of the 1880s.  In those pioneer days, local ranchers, residents, and cattlemen would gather at or near the present-day Lions Roping Arena each year for horseshoe throwing, baseball, food, and foot races.  By the fall of 1890, the Kaweah Colony had established their Advance Camp at a site nearby and even though the Colony disbanded in 1892, many colonists stayed on and with their neighbors continued the tradition of spring picnics.  By the 1920s, the event had grown to become the annual May Day Picnic, held the first Sunday of May.  With so many ranchers and cattlemen in the area, it was realized that a proper arena was needed to hold equestrian competitions.

In 1937, local rancher Lee Maloy built a roping arena at the end of what was then called Jefferson Davis Field (the old airport where all the horse trailers park on Roping weekend).  Local residents Forrest Homer, John and Dick Britten, Earl McKee, Sr., Kelley Ogilvie, Skinny Kirk, Jim Kindred, Ted Bartlett, and Joe Carmichael all had a hand in constructing the arena and made regular use of it through the decades.

After the annual May Day festivities of the 1940s, folks would mosey over to the arena to witness equestrian events.

In 1947, the Three Rivers Lions Club was organized, with Lee Maloy and many of his riding and roping friends as charter members.

The current timed events like roping and branding are variations of the work these men and others like them did from the saddle on a daily basis.  With their experience in and passion for roping, it was only a matter of a few years before the Three Rivers Lions Club took the reins to stage the first roping event, on April 15, 1950.  Admission was 50 cents and entertainment consisted of quarter horse racing and team roping.  Later events included riding a bucking horse, seeing who had the best bridle horse by putting each mount through figure eights, slides, and backing the horse up and turning him around.  The winner of the stake race was whoever could ride through the stakes the fastest.  The proceeds from the first roping event went to defray the medical expenses of a local teenager badly burned in a tragic automobile accident.

Today’s team roping events utilize the handicap system to pair up competitors based on a rider’s skill level to balance out the contests.  The American Cowboys Team Roping Association (ACTRA) devised the system in the 1980s, and it has been credited with bringing about a resurgence in the popularity of the sport.  Events include One-Over-40 Roping, Open Roping, Century Roping, Mixed Roping, Craig Thorn III Memorial Calf Branding, 3-Steer Roping, Junior Barrell Race, Pee Wee Roping, Cowboy Church, 6-Steer Championship, Pig Scramble, Open Barrell Race, and Pee Wee Barrell Race.

In 1982, when the Three Rivers Lions Club was looking for a unique buckle to award to the overall champion header and heeler at their annual team roping event, they contacted Robert Yellowhair, a Navajo Indian and near world champion team roper.  Robert was also a renowned artist and buckle-maker, and he designed a beautiful buckle for the Club.  The design is coveted by all ropers and has been the pride of the Three Rivers Lions Club Team Roping ever since.  Robert, his wife Louise, and their eight children, have all had a hand in making Yellowhair buckles over the years and a few years ago, Lorien Yellowhair purchased his father’s business.

In addition to making trophy buckles, “Yellowhair Buckles” crafts custom pieces for George Strait, Tanya Tucker, James Garner and Sally Field.  They welcome special orders from anyone.  Robert and Louise are now making custom and collectible saddles with their daughter Carol, and Robert continues to paint his beautiful Native American oils.

Current admission is one dollar.

— Information on the Annual Roping Event courtesy of The Kaweah Commonwealth and the Three Rivers Lions Club.

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