Helpers needed for rodeo

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Rodeo Board is looking for as many active volunteers as it can get to prepare for this year’s event.

The group met March 18 in response to a Sweet Home Economic Development Group meeting two days earlier, in which the SHEDG board decided by consensus to go ahead and support the rodeo this year even though it is substantially behind where it should be in raising funds for the 2011 rodeo.

Rodeo President Dick Coffin said he called a Rodeo Board meeting to let the board know it needs “to kick in and start getting sponsors.”

But the rodeo needs more than the board involved if it is to survive, he said.

The board has nine members, several who are primarily responsible for logistics before and during the event.

“Without the support of the community, the rodeo is not going to happen,” Coffin said. “I understand it’s hard. They’re hit every day for money, but the rodeo will go away if we can’t get sponsors.

“SHEDG flat told us this is the last year. This is a make-or-break year.”

Coffin feels that if the rodeo can show a significant turnaround, SHEDG may continue supporting the rodeo another year, he said. He thinks SHEDG would be happy if the rodeo can reduce its losses, significantly, from more than $10,000 to something like $3,000 to $5,000.

“They want a significant improvement,” said Bambi Wells, a member of the Rodeo Board. If the rodeo can get within $2,000, perhaps next year it can be on its own.

SHEDG has covered losses for the rodeo for about four years.

“We need people to get those sponsors,” Wells said. “The rodeo doesn’t happen on rodeo weekend. It’s all year long.”

“I’m looking for a retired person that can be on the phone 24/7,” Coffin said. “If you know somebody that wants the rodeo named after them – give us $15,000.”

Details of such an arrangement would need be worked out, he said.

The rodeo costs approximately $36,000, Coffin said. It has some sponsorships, but it’s nowhere close at this point.

The Rodeo Board is improving its marketing this year, with banners and ticket promotions through radio and family pricing on Sunday of Sportsman’s Holiday, for example.

The rodeo has also altered its schedule, starting earlier on Saturday of Sportmsan’s Holiday, at 5 p.m., to attract more activity following the parade and Logger Olympics and allow those attending to make it to the fireworks display over Foster Lake.

“I think we’re going to have a real good gate,” Coffin said.

On top of sponsorships, the rodeo attendance must improve.

“If they (the community) want it to go on, they need to show up,” Wells said.

The board is planning a kick-off dinner at the Elks Lodge for 7 p.m. on May 21. A silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets to the dinner are $13.95. They will be available Friday at the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce, the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, The New Era and OK Country Feed. They must be purchased by May 6, so the Elks knows how much food to purchase.

No admission is required for the silent auction.

The Sweet Home Rodeo is held Friday through Sunday of Sportsman’s Holiday, July 9-11 this year, with performances at 7 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

For more information or to donate, sponsor or volunteer, call Wells at (541) 936-1332 or Coffin at (541) 409-1586.