Rodeo officials ask public for help in strengthening event

Sweet Home Economic Development Group and Sweet Home Rodeo committee members are planning a community-wide meeting aimed at strengthening Frontier Sportsman’s Holiday activities and participation.

Invites will go out to groups across the community for the meeting, to be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Jim Riggs Community Center.

The SHEDG Board last month approved the 2011 Sweet Home Rodeo. In the meantime, members of the SHEDG board are working with the Rodeo Board to strengthen the event while reducing the losses it has had annually for the past several years.

“Right now, our focus is on 2011 and working with the rodeo leadership team to put on a great Sweet Home Rodeo,” said SHEDG President Kevin Strong. “We encourage people to get involved.”

It’s a good, family-oriented event, part of an entertaining Sportsman’s Holiday package in Sweet Home, he said.

One of the ways organizers think they can do that is to strengthen the weekend as a whole, making sure event schedules line up and making sure the various events have all the volunteer support they need.

“Basically we’re wanting to gain community support behind our local events, which includes the rodeo,” said Ron Moore, SHEDG board member. The idea is to get all of the different community groups together to figure out how to strengthen not just the rodeo but the community as a whole, the whole Sportsman’s Holiday production.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re actually trying to help encourage people not only to volunteer at the rodeo but trying to make Sportsman’s Holiday better,” said Kellie Kem, SHEDG board member and former Rodeo Board member.

Out of it, SHEDG and rodeo volunteers will try to find out whether the community has a desire to have a rodeo as part of Sportsman’s Holiday, Moore said.

If so, he asks how the rodeo can partner with other events to help make everyone more successful.

“We’re hoping the chamber will partner as well, and we can begin a discussion around the whole weekend,” Moore said.

“We want to make sure our events are in line,” said Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Hobbs. Part of the reason the chamber is working on a new afternoon event is to make sure people are still in town to enjoy other events, such as the rodeo, so it’s a day filled with fun, from the parade and fireworks to the Logger Olympics and the Sweet Home Rodeo.

“The thing for me, the community, is this event is a tradition of Sweet Home,” Moore said. Over the last few years, the rodeo hasn’t been able to find a way to be sustainable through its sponsorships and gate receipts.

After losing money, the rodeo went underneath the SHEDG umbrella in 2005. SHEDG has covered the rodeo’s losses since then, which amount to approximately $35,000 a year.

Wayne White, owner Wild West Events and a promoter and announcer for rodeo and bull riding events, was announcer at this year’s rodeo and met with SHEDG last week to discuss his take on making the Sweet Home Rodeo successful, stressing promotion.

White told the board he expects success to take three years, closing the gap in the first year, making a little money the second year and finding success by the third year.

With his help, Moore and the Rodeo Board hope to draw more sponsorships and develop a plan for the rodeo.

“In my mind, Wayne White’s willing to support it and help us figure out ways to make it more successful,” Moore said.

Kem said anyone interested in volunteering for the rodeo is welcome to call her at (541) 401-3080.

“We can’t do the rodeo without the community’s help,” she said.

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