Bottom line better for rodeo

Sean C. Morgan

This year’s Sweet Home Rodeo reduced its shortfall from last year by at least 50 percent, according to President Dick Coffin.

In ballpark figures, the rodeo lost about $13,000 in the 2010 event. This year, it lost approximately $6,000, Coffin said. Overall, the rodeo costs about $35,000 to produce.

Coffin doesn’t have hard figures yet, he said. Attendance was up over the three-day event held during Sportmsan’s Holiday, July 8-9, Coffin said. Last year, attendance was about 1,500. This year, it was roughly 2,220 to 2,400, improving gate receipts.

Sunday’s noon performance, usually the lowest attendance, was substantially higher this year, Coffin said, and he thinks the family-package pricing helped improve it.

The Sweet Home Economic Development Group has backfilled the shortfall for several years, and it will meet with Coffin and rodeo officials on Sept. 21, during its regular board meeting, to discuss the relationship between SHEDG and the Sweet Home Rodeo.

Coffin is excited with the progress with the rodeo this year, cutting the event’s deficit by more than 50 percent, he said.

“We had compliments from the contract,” Coffin said. “He said the committee was great. There were no hiccups. Everything worked just perfect. We had compliments from the audience, that this was one of the best-organized rodeos.”

People really do not want to see the rodeo go away, Coffin said.

The Rodeo Board is already selling next year’s event and seeking corporate sponsors, Coffin said. The rodeo’s Dodge sponsor, Mark Thomas Motors, wants to get more involved next year, and Coffin is planning to meet with its representatives soon and discuss ideas.

Rodeo Board members have already looked at the budget for 2012 and developed a plan to cut costs, Coffin said. The budget will use fund-raising events for several items, such as buckles, while the bottom line where the rodeo hopes to rely on SHEDG will decrease to about $26,600.

If everything works as budgeted, the Rodeo Board will net $100 next year, Coffin said.

“We’re going ahead, with or without SHEDG,” Coffin said. “We would very much like SHEDG to help us. With this budget, it’s really doable for them.”

Last year, Rodeo Board “morale sucked,” Coffin said. “Right now, we’re fired up.”

Coffin thinks changing start times for the performances helped improve attendance, he said. Saturday started at 5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., allowing people to make the fireworks display that night.

Sweet Home bull rider Leif Erickson and Rodeo Queen Jessica Blankenship both visited schools and promoted the rodeo.

“Jessica did an excellent job,” Coffin said, and he’s looking forward to having her back as queen next year.

The rodeo queen will now reign rodeo to rodeo instead of January to January, which means Blankenship will hold the title for an extra half year.

“She is a great queen,” Coffin said. “She was very helpful. She did the school thing. That was great.

“We came together this year. We had a few issues, but the issues were minor.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or becoming a sponsor for the Sweet Home Rodeo may contact Coffin at (541) 409-1586.