Red Bluff, an overview

Feb 12, 2010

What you do know about Red Bluff is that it has consistently been the gold standard for consignment sales in the entire country and it has maintained that level of excellence for 69 years. You know that in addition to the reputation bull sale, there is also a gelding sale that is consistently one of the highaveraging horse sales in the country and that sale draws a crowd larger than some of the towns that are listed on the buyer and consignor lists. You know that there is no place in America where a savvy and hard working stock dog will have the opportunity to show his stuff and then sell for five-figure prices. And for everyone who has ever attended this event, know that you will have a great time attending all of the many additional events that make up the week. What you may not know is that Red Bluff is not just about selling livestock. The Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale is a non-profit corporation and although there is money that flows into the organization, none of the proceeds go to any of the officers, directors or committeemen. Instead, money is donated to worthy causes to the tune of $30,000 last year.

Time moves on and this year, Red Bluff saw a significant change. Longtime Red Bluff manager Ron Anderson turned over the reins as manager to Adam Owens. Much of the success Red Bluff has enjoyed these past several years is, in large part, due to the hard work, dedication and guidance that Ron Anderson brought to the organization. He is a stockman and understood what the buyers and consignors needed and wanted from Red Bluff. He turns the responsibility over to a very capable and energetic man, Adam Owens. There is no doubt that his life-long experience in the cattle business and his growing up as part of the Red Bluff family will serve the organization well.

The officers, directors, committeemen and volunteers are dedicated to the cause and put in an untold number of hours preparing for the five days that make up Red Bluff. In addition to these men, their families are also very active in making it all happen.

Members of the Red Bluff team are Bob deBraga, president, John Owens, vice president, Gordon Bruce, treasurer, Dusty deBraga, secretary, Adam Owens, manager, and directors Ron Anderson, Matt Owens and Ken Hufford. Committeemen include Kenneth Owens, Nathan Owens, Bub Ragan, Walt Stein, Ben Sale, Button Daugherty and Brett “Mac” McGiffin. The sale veterinarians are O. W. Hooten, DVM, and Art Sutfin, DVM. These folks put in hour upon hour getting this mammoth event to run on schedule and because they do, it makes it a wonderful livestock event that is unique in our industry. If you didn’t attend this year, this is what you missed.

Day one of Red Bluff starts early as the sifters and graders sort through all of the range ready bulls and the calving ease division bulls. This year, conditions were less than ideal as rainy weather had made the grounds muddy and sloppy, yet they did an excellent job of grading the bulls and selecting the various breed champions. This year, the Calving Ease Champion honors went to longtime Red Bluff consignors Ken and Diane Read, Bar KD Ranch, Culver, OR. Day two, Wednesday, is again an early morning for everyone as the day starts with the sifting and grading of the halter bulls. Again, the men assigned to this task spend a long day making their choices and selecting the breed champions along with selecting the Jack Owens Ideal Bull with this year’s honor going to another longtime Red Bluff consignor, England Ranch, Prineville, OR. Just after the noon hour, a big crowd gathers outside to watch the stock dogs as they are worked the first time. Later in the afternoon in the Pauline Davis Pavillion, seven-time Snaffle Bit Winner Ted Robinson put on a cow horse clinic sponsored by Purina Mills.

Thursday is horse day and it, too, starts early as all of the geldings and mules are shown at halter in age order.

Over in the Don Smith Pavilion, there was a Novartis Animal Health Seminar held with a good crowd on hand. Following the seminar, the 22nd Annual Red Bluff Replacement Female Sale and Western Video Market Feeder Sale was held with excellent results. The afternoon is taken up with more horse activities as all of the horses and mules are shown under saddle in the dry work followed by the open cattle work.

That evening, the selection of the Champion Conformation Gelding is the place to be. This year, that honor went to Badgers Diggity Joe consigned by Ronnie Bertagna, Palo Cedro, CA. Following this selection, the stock dogs are worked indoors and as might be expected, the stands are filled to capacity. Friday at dawn, the Cowboy Pancake Breakfast is the place to start the day and over in the Pauline Davis Pavilion, the geldings are showing what they have in team roping, cutting, hackamore/snaffle bit and stock horse competition. After these contests are settled, the Craig Owens Ideal Ranch Horse is named and this year’s champ was AMR Renegade, a 6-year-old chestnut from Aspen Ranch, Park City, UT.

Following lunch with the Tehama County Cattle Women, the dogs are worked outside a final time with the Stock Dog Sale immediately following. This year’s Champion, Blue, was consigned by Eric Wanman, Buhl, ID, and he found a new home to the tune of $10,500. No sooner than the gavel fell on the last dog, everyone headed over to the Pauline Davis Pavilion for one of the country’s greatest horse sales.

This is a paid event and the thousands of folks who ante up for admission are there to buy quality geldings. This year’s sale topped on a great buckskin gelding from Tom and Carmen Buckingham, Bruneau, ID, at $20,000. Finally, it’s Saturday and the granddaddy of all the consignment bull sales draws a large crowd with many reputation cow outfits represented.

This year’s volume buyer was John Owens who, as a Red Bluff officer, backs up his judgement with his money and for his efforts was awarded a check for $1,000 donated by Wells Fargo, a Red Bluff sponsor. With the work all done, it’s time for a little fun. Red Bluff’s Buckin’ Best Bull Riding features top cowboys going head to head with some really rank bulls and broncs. The festivities go late into the night as the party and dance always has good attendance.

It’s difficult to find words that are adequate to describe what Red Bluff is all about. It is truly a western event unto its own. The best way to experience it is in person, so next year, be here, but I warn you, you’ll be hooked. — Jerry York, WLJ Fieldman