Tuolumne County Sheriff & President

Bill Pooley
Bill Pooley

General Chairman

Audie Archer
Audie Archer
General Chairman


Van Pender

A big thanks to all you rodeo fans for attending the 2023 Mother Lode Rodeo and Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Mothers out there.  We are honored to have you share your weekend with us. On behalf of the Sheriff’s Posse I would like to thank the many sponsors and local business that continue to support this great tradition that has continued for over 60 years. Also Thank you to the County of Tuolumne and the Board of Supervisors and the City of Sonora for their support and dedication to this historical event.

It has been my honor to have served as Captain for this fine group of men and women this past year.  I would personally like to thank all the men and women of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse that volunteer their valuable time and energy to help create this wonderful event each year.  Your many hours of hard work and dedication are what make this event happen.   You are truly appreciated.

The Mother Lode Round Up represents a long history of ranching and family history in Tuolumne County.   The true Western spirit lives right here in Sonora, California at the Mother Lode Round Up and provides a truly exciting rodeo experience for all ages. It is our wish that you have a great time watching top cowboys, cowgirls, and livestock from all over the country perform at their best.

I would like to say thanks to my family.  My little brothers, Scott and David, and my big sister Debbie who is still not the boss of me, Fathers Bill, Doug and Richard Pender, To the wonderful Moms in my life, Suzan, my wife, Edna, Connie, Sally, and Janet, I wish you a very special Happy Mother’s Day.  Also, to my son Bryant Pender who is the best son a dad could ever have and his lovely wife Shelby.

The Sheriff’s Posse with the support of family, friends, and many volunteers have worked diligently to bring you a great traditional rodeo so strap your boots on, chinch up those belts, grab a drink and enjoy the show.

Best Regards,
Captain Van Pender

Grand Marshall

Sheriff Dick Rogers

Dick Rogers began his career in law enforcement in Marin County, California in 1973 and moved to Tuolumne County in 1978 at the invitation of Sonora Chief of Police Ron Wano. His recruitment was as simple as a recommendation from his brother in law, Jim Mcgettigan, and phone conversation between Dick and Wano with a promise to the Chief that he was “one of the good guys”.

Dick had received a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Wyoming and a Masters in Public Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He is a United States Army, active and National Guard Veteran and rose to the rank of Major at the time of his retirement. His service to law enforcement in Tuolumne County spans a period of over 25 years. As a Sonora Police Officer he served in patrol and eventually head the investigation division until he was elected to Sheriff of Tuolumne County in 1998.

Dick served as Sheriff for two terms. Not long after taking Office he took an active part with his department personnel and worked with the FBI receiving national media attention in solving the Yosemite Sund-Pelosso kidnapping and murders of three women who disappeared during a trip to the Park. As well, he supervised underwater recoveries in New Melonies Reservoir of four murder victims involving the Russian mafia. During his Administration he and his Coroners’ division lead the national recall of the potentially lethal “PokiMan” toys that caused the choking death of small children.

As sheriff Dick remained an active and enthusiastic supporter of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse, attending and participating in numerous parades, rodeos and other events and promoting good will, support and cooperation with other Northern California Sheriffs and their posses. His support continues after retirement through his family. His son, Chris is a member of the Posse while both of his granddaughters, Karissa and Rayna served as Mother Lode Round Up Queens. His daughter in law, Shasta, and her daughters serve on the Mother Lode Round Up Queen Committee and are well known mentors, not only for Tuolumne County contestants but other Queens and candidates to promote rodeo activities all over California.

Since his retirement Dick remains at his ranch home in Jamestown with his wife Jeanette and his family, along with five horses, three horse trailers, and his familiar full size Sierra Railroad Caboose.

Top Hand

Denny Walter

Dennis “Denny” Walter was born and raised in Durango Colorado, next to youngest of 10. He grew up on his parents’ ranch learning to ride and care for animals at a young age. When he was in high school, he competed riding bulls. At the age of 17 he joined the Navy. He was stationed in San Diego as part of an Air Squadron. When the time came, they were attached to a carrier for trips to Vietnam. When he was still 17 he met his future wife, Elly, and the next time they met they got engaged. They have been married 56 years, had 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

After 4 years in the Navy, he retired and moved up to Fremont and went to work for PG&E.  He worked out of town most of the time. He was a towerman, linesman, trouble man & Forman throughout the years.

In 1986 he and Elly moved to Sonora and a few months later transferred to a division up here. He retired in 2007 and was one of the 1st to go up to Kennedy Meadows to help after the horrific fire there. He ended up working there for 6 years as an electrician and whatever else they needed.

Denny has always been a guy who helps without having to be asked. He helped as a volunteer a few years before becoming a Tuolumne County Sheriff‘s Posse member. He helped to put up and take down the beer booths for the rodeo, helped cook for the Posse parade riders and barbecued for many events. He has been a Posse member for well over 20 years. Eventually he became chairman for the rodeo beer booths, Strawberry Music Festival and many other events. He has always stepped up when he could to barbecue, bartend, set up and take down and to help others. The rodeo, making friends, and helping friends has always been a part of his life and who he is. Top Hand is an honor and well deserved.

Mother Of The Year

Elaine Wolfgang

Elaine is the proud mother of two sons and daughters-in-law, Jason & Delene Wolfgang and Jeff & Zanna Wolfgang. She is also a proud Grandma of Kolton, Kyler, Tayla and Brentley Wolfgang, Savanah and J.T. Egger and also Bill’s grandsons Bryce, Coleton, Brayden and Cooper Sanguinetti.   Elaine was born in Alturas, CA to Bob and Erma Schluter and joined her two brothers, Richard and Ron, on her parents’ ranch in Ft. Bidwell, CA.  She learned a lot about ranching skills at a very young age like riding horses mainly on her horse named Cotton Eye because of his one white eye, driving a tractor while pulling a hay wagon with her dad feeding the cattle and horses, branding, haying, tending to the chickens and helping her mom plant and harvest their large garden and making home-made ice-cream.

A few favorite memories include the milk squirting fun they would have while milking the cows, going car hooding on the snow and all the family gatherings. Elaine attended a two-room 1st – 8th grade school both in Ft. Bidwell and Lake City, CA before her parents bought a ranch in Alturas and the family moved there in January of 1961.  She was a 9 year member of 4-H, played sports in elementary and high school, worked at the library and helped her parents on the ranch.  Upon graduating high school, Elaine received her AA Degree at Shasta Jr. College and then transferred to Chico State College.  After getting married in 1971 to Bob Wolfgang and moving to Tuolumne County, she worked as a waitress for several years and was the Office Manager for a drilling and blasting contractor for 19 years before going to work for Tuolumne Utilities District for over 25 years. She retired in 2018.  Elaine volunteered in her sons’ classrooms and on school committees, held offices in their sports activities, owned a small sporting goods business, played recreational softball in Tuolumne County for 43 years and is an officer in two organizations.

Bill Sanguinetti, her boyfriend of 25 years, has been a Sheriff’s Posse member for 48 years. During Elaine’s 14 years with the Posse she has worked at many of their events and is currently the Rodeo Gate and Ticket Chairperson.  Elaine felt honored being chosen as the Posse Sweetheart in 2019 but being chosen as the 2023 Mother of the Year is even more overwhelmingly heartfelt.  She is deeply honored and grateful and would like to thank her Posse family for this honor.  She hopes everyone enjoys the Round-Up weekend and wishes all Mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day.