In our opinion
This weekend is arguably the biggest event for Cheney in any year – and it’s getting bigger.
Outside of maybe an Eastern Washington University-University of Montana football game, more people come here for the Cheney Rodeo than at any other time. And for the last two years, the Cheney Jubilee has helped swell those numbers Saturday and Sunday.
Volunteers for both organizations work hard to make each year better than the last, adding more attractions, prize money for competitions along with space and amenities and with it more reasons for people outside the area to come to the city to have fun and, hopefully, spend a little money. If the success continues, the Cheney Rodeo and Cheney Jubilee could become destination tourist events well known to people far outside our region.
That “could be” is a caveat because there is a bit of tension between the two organizations. We know this from our contacts with both groups.
Possibly that tension is to be somewhat expected. The rodeo has been around for 46 years, with numerous individuals working diligently over the decades to turn it from an amateur event into the excellent professional competition it is today, one of the biggest on the Columbia River Circuit.
Enter the Jubilee in 2011. The two-day event began when some individuals met in 2010 to form an event giving visitors in town for the rodeo parade a reason to stick around until the competition Saturday night, and hopefully come back Sunday.
Without a Cheney Rodeo, would there have been a reason to think about a Cheney Jubilee? It’s a hypothetical argument, but what isn’t hypothetical is the Jubilee’s success.
Holding a competition barbecue was a genius idea, and community volunteers have worked tirelessly to add to that while also surrounding it with activities and entertainment for the entire family. The Jubilee has definitely managed to put some “heads in beds,” to use a rather worn out, but accurate, economic phrase.
That success has created competition with the rodeo for such financial boosts as hotel/motel tax revenue and local advertising dollars. And there’s the identity thing, too.
It’s created some tension, but tension we think can be worked through for the betterment of both events. Perhaps an acknowledgement of history, definition of roles, qualities leading to long-term existence, practices achieving modern successes, liaisons on each other’s boards and an understanding of event demographics might be helpful ideas?
Some city employees serve as volunteers with the Jubilee, while the Rodeo is virtually all volunteer, so maybe getting more at-large community members involved in Jubilee might lessen perceptions, real or not. As a suggestion, we would like to see more of the city involved geographically in both events since, for the most part, these take place in north Cheney and outside, leaving little opportunity for visitors to come downtown.
Both the Rodeo and Jubilee share a common goal – providing a safe, fun event for people to enjoy, hopefully under bright blue July skies and warm summer temperatures. Both organizations are doing a great job, and with a little work together, could make the second weekend in July incredible not only for people in this area, but for many throughout the Northwest looking for a reason to hit the road.