CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's quite the sight.
Cowboys and cowgirls with a herd of about 200 steers fill up Robertson Boulevard on their way through town before eventually returning to the fairgrounds.
"We try really hard," says Shane Barnes. "The last couple of years have been really tough, we couldn't have our event. But now we're back to normal, hopefully."
The cattle drive kicked off the 65th annual Chowchilla Western Stampede following a two-year hiatus brought on by COVID restrictions.
Big smiles could be seen along the town's main drag as onlookers watched this massive undertaking while bluegrass music played in the backdrop.
"The tradition was formalized when they began to have rodeos in Chowchilla on a regular basis," says Madera County District 2 Supervisor David Rogers.
The stampede is the beginning of three days of roping events at the fairgrounds. Residents say the tradition pays homage to the cowboy way of life.
"With that is a culture and that are values that continue to this day in this town," Rogers said.
Many say this is the last stampede in the world.
Rogers works with other local leaders to keep the tradition alive.
"When people move here, they come for the country way of life," he said. "They come here for the things that make Chowchilla, Chowchilla and this is one of them."
Cash prizes and cowboy gear will be awarded throughout the weekend.
All events are free to the public