New committee to coordinate Frontier Sportsman’s Holiday plans

Sean C. Morgan

A new committee formed last week will help coordinate Frontier Sportsman’s Holiday events in an effort to improve participation, expand and promote Sportsman’s Holiday activities.

The committee is the result of a meeting held on Oct. 19. The meeting was set during a meeting between board members from the Sweet Home Economic Development Group and the Sweet Home Rodeo Board, which were attempting to find ways to revitalize the rodeo.

Sportsman’s Holiday is held the second weekend of July and includes a parade, the Logger Olympics, Sweet Home Rodeo, a fireworks display and more.

Last week’s meeting was not called about the rodeo specifically, said Ron Moore, SHEDG board member. “We’re here about the whole weekend.”

It’s about reaching out to the community to maintain the weekend if the community wants it, Moore said. It was an open forum for ideas about the weekend.

Approximately two dozen people representing the Chamber of Commerce, the Sweet Home Active Revitalization Effort, SHEDG, the Rodeo Baoard and other groups attended the meeting. They discussed ideas ranging from advertising outside the community to draw people to Sweet Home during Sportsman’s Holiday to schedule changes to allow people to transfer easily from one event to the next.

“We’ve discussed changing our hours to fit with the fireworks out at the lake,” said Dick Coffin, president of the Rodeo Board. The Saturday performance will start at 5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. on Saturday next year, decreasing the time between the Logger Olympics and the rodeo and allowing rodeo fans to attend the fireworks.

Sunday’s rodeo will start at noon in an effort to avoid the heat of the day, Coffin said, and a package of four tickets will be offered for $20 on Sunday to help fill the seats.

The rodeo costs $35,000 to put on, Coffin said. The show lost more than $10,000 last year.

“Obviously, what we’re trying to do is to establish more value for people,” Moore said. The event is being run efficiently, but it’s not drawing enough people or sponsorships.

Of course, the last few years, there haven’t been as many sponsorships to go around, Moore noted. “My belief is we need to have a Sportsman’s Holiday Committee led by someone to take on all events that week and promote them. That’s one of the things I feel we’re lacking, promotion, especially with the rodeo.”

The last few years, the rodeo has had to pinch pennies, Coffin said.

Former Rodeo Board member Kellie Kem, now a SHEDG board member, explained that the rodeo is run by a small board, about a half dozen active people.

Senior Center Manager Ken Bronson asked what other towns, such as Philomath, do differently.

“Their whole town is decked out,” Coffin said. “Their whole town is behind the rodeo. I don’t want to be negative, but I don’t feel the whole town is behind the rodeo.”

Around Sweet Home, no one paints their windows any more for Sportsman’s Holiday, he said. It doesn’t have sidewalk sales any more, and there isn’t much enthusiasm for Sportsman’s Holiday.

Nancy Patton of SHARE asked what else went on besides window painting and sales. Those who grew up in Sweet Home or lived here for decades described boat races, fishing derbies, downtown carnivals, raffles, a triathlon and tubathon and a large parade that went both ways along Main Street.

“It was much larger,” Moore said. “Even Christmas time was much larger. My opinion is there should be multiple events. The more events, the more people will stick around.”

He related the success of Stayton’s summer festival. The festival has six events, including a dog show. Each event is run by a different group, but the Stayton Chamber of Commerce promotes them all as part of the same festival.

“We really haven’t done a lot to promote the rodeo and make it thrive, the whole weekend,” Moore said. “Here’s the tough question: Do we want to continue to have Sportsman’s Holiday?”

There’s momentum in the community, Patton said. “I’m going to say yes, right off the bat.”

Moore said his second tough question was whether the rodeo needs to be part of it.

“It’s about how we promote it, how we can get our community here to support it.”

The SHEDG Board needs to know the community is behind it, Moore said.

Similarly, the fireworks have been in danger for several years, he said, and he has ideas to help the Sweet Home Volunteer Firefighters Association raise the funds to put on the show, such as passing the boot during the fireworks event.

Moore said he would happily throw $10 into the boot during the fireworks to help fund the next year.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Manager Andrea Culy volunteered to chair the Sportsman’s Holiday Committee, and most of those attending the meeting signed on to serve on the committee.

For more information or to get involved, contact Culy at (541) 367-6186.