Rodeo crowd, revenue not as hot as weather

Attendance at the Sweet Home Rodeo was down this year, which means the event will finish in the red.

Combined with a late start to get ready for the annual event, held July 9-11, the rodeo will fail to break even this year, said board President Dick Coffin.

In preparation for the 2011 event, the volunteer rodeo board will get going immediately to solicit sponsors, with an extra effort devoted to reaching corporate sponsors.

“We were light all three days,” Coffin said. “I think it was just too hot. We have to find some way of shading those bleachers.”

It wasn’t just a problem for the rodeo, Coffin said. Based on a discussion he had with a Loggers Olympics organizer, he believes people were leaving that early because of the heat.

Last year, the gate was higher than usual while sponsorships were down, Coffin said. While sponsorships were lighter than usual this year, they were higher than last year; but the gate failed to materialize.

The rodeo had a few issues to resolve before the board got started preparing for this year’s event in February, Coffin said. “Five months is not enough time to get sponsors on board.”

The volunteers talked to many corporate representatives this year and kept hearing that they need to have the process going by August and September the year before the event, Coffin said. The rodeo volunteers are already hearing from new corporate sponsors who want to get on board for 2011.

Coffin is optimistic about 2011, he said. “The sitting board, right now, did a lot of work. I think we’ve got a very good board.”

The board members are not there for any other reason than to work as a team to put together a rodeo, he said. “They worked their butts off to make it a success. We’re already starting for 2011.”

The Sweet Home Economic Development Group, which has taken the rodeo into its organization, has already done as much as it can to help the rodeo, Coffin said. It’s continuing by making room on its website for a better website.

In the meantime, the rodeo board is specifically focused on improving its marketing for 2011, Coffin said. Announcer and promoter Wayne White will probably be back next year, helping with advertising among his other activities.

Marketing is something the rodeo hasn’t been able to focus on enough with its financial status the past few years, Coffin said.

Coffin said the performances and the feedback on the rodeo were great.

“The people who didn’t show up missed a great performance,” Coffin said. Cowboys, sponsors and others enjoyed the ground, particularly the grassy area where they could camp, something unusual for rodeos. Many stayed a couple of extra days before moving on.

The Stick Horse Rodeo was a success, Coffin said. Board members Bambi Wells and her mother, Susan Immel, worked with Immel’s mother, Martha King, who cut the horse heads, to paint the stick horses, and they’re already doing next year’s.

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