Gilroy rodeo kicks off tonight, 'just what this town needs'

It's the first big community event following the shooting at the garlic festival. But organizers are hoping fear won't keep people away from the Gilroy Rodeo. They're hoping the community will come together. 

The rodeo is coming to Gilroy; complete with calf roping, bull riding and bucking broncos.

Event director Erik Martin believes right now, it is exactly what this town needs.

He says, "I'd love it to be where everybody comes back together as a community here." 

It won't be easy after what they've been through. The Garlic Festival shooting is fresh on everyone's minds.

Ryan Town was there when gunfire broke out.

Town says, "something like that stays around for a little bit. My whole family was there. At first, we thought it was firecrackers. But then it wasn't."

But surviving what he did made Town more determined than ever to volunteer.

He says, "it's a new event that you can come together and make new memories to have fun. And it's going to hopefully take your mind off what happened."

There will be stepped up security here, both private and through the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office.

Kurt Ashley, Rodeo Public Safety Director says, "we've buttoned up what we believe may have been some gaps in our security, increased numbers of security officers and how we're deploying the personnel throughout the event."

The hope is to reassure the public that it's safe to gather here.

Deputy Michael Low, with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office says "we don't want to allow the actions of one individual to dictate how we live our lives. We want to still go out and be able to enjoy a good time at the rodeo with your family, with your friends and just feel safe and secure."

Organizers are hoping for a big turnout. So far, they've sold three times more tickets than last year.
Proceeds will go to local youth groups, to a cancer charity, and to the victims of the Gilroy shooting.

Corissa King, Miss Gilroy Rodeo 2019 says "you can't live life in fear. You can't be always scared. So coming here and getting everyone together, come to our cowboy church and just everyone relax and have a good time, and be stress free."

The Gilroy Rodeo kicks off with barrel racing tonight and team roping tomorrow, both of which are free events. Then the big action gets underway Friday, Saturday and Sunday and those tickets are $20 dollars online or $25 at the gate.