Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Attendance turns out light for 50th edition of Cheney Rodeo

Sponsor involvement fills the gap, however

 

December 28, 2017

A variety of things led to slightly decreased attendance at the 50th Cheney Rodeo, which concluded a three-day run this past July.

There was plenty to see at the 50th edition of the Cheney Rodeo that completed its run this past July at the Bi-Mart Arena.

Problem was just not as many eyes as usual watched over the three days of the milestone year event, according to the sponsoring organization's Cheney Events Association president, Rick Edwards.

"We are still counting and tying down numbers," Edwards wrote in an email.

He followed up on that during a later interview, saying that, "We were a little light on the gate (but) the sponsorship made up for it," and went on to add, "Sunday was also lighter than normal, Friday was fairly flat (and) Saturday was lighter than normal."

It wasn't for lack of trying on behalf of the rodeo itself .

"The performances were great, the contestants were quick out of the gate, the stock performance was spectacular as were the contestants," Edwards said. "The contestant count was the best we have seen."

Stock contractor Bar C-5 provided the perfect match of stock and the growth of the added money in the purse to $5,000 per event, leading to the contestant count being "The best we have seen," Edwards said.

The downside was timing - and some oppressive heat -Edwards said.

"We're on the same week as the Fourth of July, people took the whole week off," he said. "People were out of town doing something else," which is not generally the case.

The warm weather is always an enemy, Edwards said. "No one wants to sit out (in the heat), especially on Sunday. It's hard to pick a time on Sunday that works."

There's difficulty in finding the right third day for the rodeo, and Edwards said the events association knows that from experience.

"People are more eager to go out on a Thursday night than a Sunday night, for some reason, perhaps because it is seen as being closer to the weekend," Edwards said.

But a return to Thursday night is not necessarily the answer.

"We tried that before and the challenges there are getting the help," Edwards said. The crowds were not all that much better when the experiment was tried several years ago. "I don't know, it's something that we can consider," he added.

As plans begin to take shape for year 51 - and beyond - Edwards laughed when asked if he'd be with the rodeo at its possible 100th birthday. "I'm pretty close to 60 now," he said.

His message to the community is simple: "We need more volunteers and more people committed." There is a need for a long-term commitment, he added.

"We have people come in for this year and that year but to make them want that to be part of their life mission is another deal," Edwards said.

The next 50 years will require more dedicated volunteers with focus on improving the grounds and performances. "We hope to see covered stands, cooled VIP accommodations, better sound quality and lighting," Edwards said. Also, with the stock being larger and more powerful than ever, rebuilding of stronger holding pens is anticipated.

Edwards also peered into the future of the sport.

"I have no idea what the PRCA (Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association) will look like over the next 50 years," Edwards said. "The battle by activists over transportation and animal care and rights is a burdensome challenge despite the respect the contractors hold for the stock," he added. PRCA has reached out for better participation beyond the borders of the U.S. with negotiations in both Canada and Mexico taking place for future stock needs.

"I personally will not likely see year 100, but pray it will be a sight to behold," Edwards said.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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