Merced County Times Newspaper
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‘One Arm Bandit’ to ride tall at 67th Coarsegold Rodeo

John S. Payne, the notorious One Arm Bandit from Oklahoma will be the special rodeo guest at the Coarsegold Rodeo.
John S. Payne, the notorious One Arm Bandit from Oklahoma will be the special rodeo guest at the Coarsegold Rodeo.

A long running tradition returns to the town of Coarsegold, located about 20 miles south of Yosemite National Park, as the 67th annual Coarsegold Pro-Rodeo takes place May 3 and 4. The rodeo is held at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds on road 415 in Coarsegold, a venue known for its beautiful views, rich history and top quality athletes that compete there.

John S. Payne, the notorious One Arm Bandit from Oklahoma will be the special rodeo guest at the Coarsegold Rodeo.

Therese Williams the public relations director for Visit Yosemite Madera County said, “It is such an honor to have the One Arm Bandit from Oklahoma perform at the Coarsegold Rodeo. I know a lot of people are excited to attend to see him perform.”

John was born to a rancher in the oil rich town of Shidler, Oklahoma on April 19, 1953. Ranch life with four brothers taught John to “Get out of the way or get run over.”

John believes: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “If there is a will, there is a way.”

On June 12, 1973, while tearing a house down for his dad and thinking the electricity had been shut off, John climbed an electric pole to cut some wires. Problem was, he was dead wrong about the status of the wires. 7,200 volts of electricity ran through his entire body for an unbearable 10 seconds. John remembers the electrocution clearly. He tried to release his grip, but could not. It burnt through his fingers of his right hand, releasing his grip and he fell 25 feet.

What is it like to receive a shock of 7,200 volts?

“Super hot. … It felt like my blood was boiling, and that my brain was going to explode. It felt like a monster was savagely attacking my body.”

The doctors wanted to cut off John’s left leg but he told them: “I can’t ride a horse with one leg, and if I can’t ride a horse I don’t want to live.”

The doctors did, however, cut off his right arm below his shoulder.

Coarsegold Rodeo

• This is the 67th annual Coarsegold Rodeo with all 7 of the rodeo events including bullriding, barrel racing, team roping, tie- down roping, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, and steer wrestling.  Heritage Days on Friday for the kids, the Michael Steen Exceptional Kids Rodeo, Mutton Bustin, over 30 vendors.

• Event Time: Grand Entry is 7 p,m. on Friday, May 3, and 6 p.m. Saturday, May 4.

• Event Location: Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds (44777 Rodeo Grounds Lane, Coarsegold, CA 93614)

• Fee: 13 & up ($15), 3-12 ($5) and free 2 and under. $5 off Friday with veterans id and $5 off for first responders with id on Saturday.

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