Strong attendance at Gilroy Rodeo sign of Gilroy Strong

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- Don't let Zachariah Ratliff's small size fool you. The 13-year-old took first place in his age group in the steer riding competition at the Gilroy Rodeo. Steer riding is like bull riding, but for teens.

"It was awesome. I had a lot of confidence. It was my first win," says Ratliff. "The key is to lean forward and (have) lots of confidence."

He says he trained four years for his ride that lasted eight seconds. The win is extra special because it's his first competition since breaking his arm after falling off a bull earlier this year.

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"This is his first rodeo back from that injury, so it was awesome for a dad to see his son achieve what he wants to do. It's his first buckle, his first win. We are excited!" says Kevin Ratliff, Zahariah's father. The dad greeted the champion with a bear hug and a high-five.

There was also a lot of excitement in the crowd. And a special sense of community. The rodeo is the first major event in the city since the fatal shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Security has been beefed up with more patrols and security measures in place.

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"You can't let one person ruin tradition. I feel safe. There is a lot more security out here," says Rhonda Kost, a rodeo fan.

Meanwhile, Gilroy police say Christmas Hill Park, the site of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, remains closed for the next few weeks. But police have allowed a makeshift memorial to be set up the intersection of Miller Avenue and Uvas Park Drive, one of the main entrances to the park area.

Corrisa King, the 2019 Gilroy Rodeo Queen, says the strong rodeo turn out is true sign of Gilroy Strong.

"It was amazing to see. It made my heart happy to see that Gilroy is coming back together," King said.
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