Longtime Clovis City Council Member Harry Armstrong will lead the parade as the Grand Marshal of the 102nd Clovis Rodeo.
“To be named Grand Marshal is an honor,” said Armstrong, “As a council member, I sought to foster good community between the City and Rodeo. I have seen the City, community and rodeo embrace each other over the years.”
Though a longtime member of the Clovis Rodeo Association, 86-year-old Armstrong is best known in the community for his many years on the Clovis City Council – all 46 of them. First elected to the council in 1970, Armstrong has consistently won reelection since then for a total of 11 uninterrupted terms in office, serving as mayor five times along way, all of which make him the longest tenured elected official in California.
A job move brought Armstrong and his family to Clovis in 1961; He took a job with Borden Dairy in Fresno after it closed its Merced location. The change proved transformational for both Armstrong and the City of Clovis.
“It was the best move of my life,” he said.
His involvement in the community started very soon after his arrival, spurred by his interest in making Clovis an even better place to live.
By 1966 Armstrong had been appointed a member of the Clovis Planning Commission, beginning his half-century of focused dedication to the community. During his time with the Clovis City Council, Armstrong served over two decades on the board of the California League of Cities and worked closely with the Fresno County Transportation Authority as a key player in bringing Highway 168 to Clovis.
The Clovis Rodeo Association chose Armstrong as Grand Marshal for the 102nd rodeo because of this dedication and commitment to the Clovis community, including the rodeo.
“We are honored to be able to recognize Harry as Grand Marshal for all of the work he’s done as an elected official for our community and as a member of the Rodeo Association,” said Greg Gillard, President of the Clovis Rodeo Association. “It is the commitment of so many such as him that has helped to build the Clovis Rodeo into one of our community’s premiere events.”
That dedication included first attending, then volunteering at the Clovis Rodeo, an event that Armstrong sees as one and the same with the community.
“The rodeo is an integral part of Clovis,” he said. “The rodeo was started many years ago by those who lived here and sought to inspire, create, and instill good will between the many people of the community. The dream and inspiration continues.”
Armstrong credits friends Lyle and Sharon Smith for first bringing he and his family to the rodeo, and former Clovis City Council members Tom Stearns and Stan King for helping him become a member. Since then Armstrong has urged many other involved Clovis citizens to follow in his footsteps and volunteer with the Rodeo Association.
Over the years Armstrong himself has served many roles at the rodeo, but perhaps was most visible in a quite popular food booth.
“I loved preparing and serving the greatest tri-tip sandwiches in the rodeo world,” he said. “That was fun!”
This year he will take a break from the sandwich work so that he and wife Diane can be front and center, seated in the box reserved especially for the Grand marshal, directly across from both the announcer’s booth and the rough stock chutes.
Armstrong can’t pick one special memory of past Clovis Rodeos as his favorite — he says he has too many — but a few things stand out.
“Who can forget Wilbur Plaugher, PRCA Hall of Fame rodeo clown?” he said. “He truly embraced the Clovis Rodeo and its identity, which was akin to his.”
And Armstrong remembers some excitement when a popular 1970’s trend appeared unofficially at one rodeo, “If you want crazy, how about the lady streaker at the east end of the arena when streaking was popular?” he recalls, “For the record, I was not a streaker; but she was, and what a spectacle!”
Armstrong will be presented with his traditional Grand marshal belt buckle and Western hat at the Clovis Rodeo Banquet on Saturday, April 16, and he plans to proudly wear them for all the rodeo week festivities.
“To be named Grand marshal is an honor,” he said. “I hope I have helped achieve the values the rodeo, community and their affiliates bring to Clovis.”
“Clovis is the greatest community I have ever known. The rodeo, community, and all related persons that make the City and rodeo what they are collectively must be commended. That is community. I will always be honored to say that I was at least a part of what we call Clovis, the Clovis Rodeo and community.”
What: Clovis Rodeo Parade
When: 9:30 a.m., Saturday, April 26
Where: Old Town Clovis. The parade route begins and ends at Clovis Rodeo Grounds, heading south on Clovis Avenue to Barstow, then north on Pollasky Avenue to 3rd Street.
Details: www.clovisrodeo.com. The parade lasts about two hours and has more than 150 entries.