2020 was the western industry’s worst nightmare. Venues shut down, events canceling left and right, careers put on hold, and millions of dollars normally raised for non-profits across the country were lost. So what good came out of 2020? The good that came out of 2020 was that the rodeo industry was able to come together like no one has seen before to ensure our western way of life carries on. So the big question stands, what will the rodeo industry look like for the rest of 2021?
We have seen what the start of 2021 held with rodeos pushing back their dates and some still having to cancel early on in the year, there has been one big question in everybody’s head about what the rest of this year is going to hold for events, stock contractors and everyone else that plays a role in the production of a rodeo, and that is, “What does it look like on the other side of this?” Unfortunately, the answer is super clear, but here’s what some industry professionals are saying.
Honeycutt Rodeo Inc.
Honeycutt Rodeo company is 9 generations of cowboys who have been raising stock and producing rodeos across the southwest. With a history like that, you know they’ve seen a thing or two since being in business. Although, I don’t think anything could prepare them for what happened last year. Having been personally involved with several of their rodeos that they’ve produced, you can’t find a nicer or more humble family. I was excited for the opportunity for them to share their experience over the last year and what 2021 holds for them.
“Stock contractors are a tough bunch, we are used to hardship and challenges. When the price of Hay, the price of fuel skyrockets, when that one bull or horse just doesn’t have the trip you needed him to have that day, we figure it out, except the challenge, and move on. But Covid has been different, no one saw it coming, and no one knew how to handle it.
We tried to push thru as we always do. We pushed thru and had our hometown rodeo at our house, in our hayfield. But not every Rodeo Committee was able to do that and as a result, we lost over 92% of our normal revenue in 2020. We still had hay to buy, land payments to make, vet bills, you get the picture. But Rodeo Stock Contractors are resilient, we are COWBOYS. We don’t know the word “Can’t”
As 2021 opens up, and people are willing to step out, we are here to help them! We will not give in to fear, we will not back down. Freedom is not FREE and neither is Rodeo. We learned that this past year. Rodeo can be taken away in an instant, and we can’t let that happen. Rodeo is too important, it reminds us of our roots, where this Country started, and where this Country needs to stay- FREE!! Our slogan for 2021 is “Faith, Freedom, Rodeo!!” It’s just that important!”
Gunnison Cattlemen’s Day Rodeo
Recognized for being the #1 Tough Enough to Wear Pink Rodeo in the country, Cattlemen’s Days is one of the best rodeos in the country. When it comes to the actual rodeo performances, you can’t beat the Gunnison background but the rodeo action never disappoints. Last year they were able to hold a rodeo, but nothing like an event they are used to putting on. I was able to snag a few words with Cattlemen’s Days President, Michael Dawson and Cattlemen’s Days TETWP Executive Director, Heidi Sherratt.
“We learned to be both flexible and conservative in 2020, and that is carrying forward to 2021 as we make plans for the 121st Cattlemen’s Days celebration and Rodeo. Some great things actually came out of the pandemic for us. We are finally moving to online and credit card ticket sales, and are modernizing our website and social media presence as it is becoming more and more important to promote our best “Small town, Big Time Rodeo” every day. Given the success and national broadcast of our rodeo through the Cowboy Channel last year, we have doubled our partnership with the City of Gunnison and plan to stage another great rodeo on July 15, 16, and 17, with hopefully less restrictive protocols and more allowed public attendance.” – Michael Dawson, Cattlemen’s Days President
Cattlemen’s Days Tough Enough to Wear Pink organization helps provide everything from free mammograms, transportation, and food cards to financial support for leading-edge technology that allows leading experts such as Stephania K. Timothy, MD to perform complex surgeries. All of the money raised in Gunnison stays local, and a portion of proceeds from everything sold within the Wrangler Tough Enough to Wear Pink merchandise collection goes back to the campaign fund.
“2020 was a huge challenge for fundraising for our TETWP programs, and there was no way we could have our traditional songwriter concert in a packed conference center in the 2020 summer. Instead, we created the Songwriter Shuffle where we rotated artists at private residences, each with limited capacity and under an operational plan which complied with the strict health department requirements last summer. These 3 nights of music in August sold out, the auction was a success, and we met our 2020 fundraising goals. This unique format is carrying over to 2021, and we are excited to have more top Nashville songwriters and breathtaking locations to stage our 2nd Songwriter Shuffle on July 1 and 2, 2021. With venue capacity limits being raised this summer, it is setting up to be a beautiful transition to a better event format for our #1 in the nation TETWP Fundraising campaign. Transition and challenge make the best even better!” – Heidi Sherratt, Cattlemen’s Days TETWP Executive Director
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut path for rodeos to follow during this unprecedented time. Having been on a rodeo committee myself, it’s easy to dismiss the things going on around us and want so badly for an event to take place, but when looking at the logistics there is so much more that goes into play. Here are some of the things you can do if you have a local rodeo that isn’t taking place this year.
- Send them an email or message thanking them for what they do in your community
- If they are a non-profit organization, consider making a tax-deductible write-off
- If you are looking for ways to give back to your community, consider joining a committee or organization that helps host annual events
- The easiest thing you can do is share their mission with your friends and family
It’s times like these where every little thing counts and as the rodeo industry fights its way back to normalcy, we have to remember to do our part as well. That means supporting your local rodeo committee no matter the outcome of their event. As much as we might love a good old rodeo, it’s so important to remember the meaning of why we do what we do and the folks behind all the hard as well. While there is no definite answer to what rodeo will look like in 2021, I know that our industry won’t go down without a fight and we will come back stronger than ever.
As part of this initiative, we want to encourage everyone to support their local rodeo and if you have one in particular that you would like to highlight, please send them our way and we will make sure to do a write-up on them.
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