Going pro did the rodeo in, but a return to its amateur roots may be coming down the chute.
In the meantime though, the Coombs Rodeo, which was cancelled last year after 32 years because of cost overruns, will not be back this summer.
“We hoped we’d be able to pull it together but we didn’t have enough sponsors or volunteers … it’s a money issue, plain and simple,” Coombs Community Organization president Sue O’Hare told The News, explaining it costs about $80,000 to put on the rodeo, “and we just don’t have that kind of money. Not right now.”
A popular amateur rodeo and part of summer in these parts since 1979, the Coombs Rodeo became a pro event on the BCRA circuit in 2009.
“The stock provider that talked us into going pro needed one more event for him to get his pro ticket,” O’Hare explained when pressed for some insight into what happened. “We got talked into going pro and that’s what killed us. It was a mistake and that’s what put us in debt, so if we do go back, it will definitely be amateur; it won’t be a pro rodeo.”
Numbers have also dwindled the past few years and the small local community organization, she added, is down to a core group of about 10 volunteers “who do everything, which makes it hard to put on any kind of event.”
The bluegrass festival is the only remaining long-running event, “but we also have several other music events on the grounds this year.”
O’Hare confirmed the decision to cancel the rodeo has not been unanimous.
“We’ve go a certain group of people that only joined the organization because of the rodeo — they aren’t involved in any of the other events we put on, so you bet it’s been a bone of contention,” she said.
“Not only for them, but for me and for (other volunteers) — the rodeo is only one of the many things we do for our community.”
When they cancelled the Coombs Rodeo last year, the organization was $30,000 in debt. Fast forward to today and they’re back in the black, which opens the door for rodeo’s return to Coombs at some point.
“We have to operate like a business,” she said, pointing out, “we made money when it was an amateur event.”
On Aug. 26, it’s the annual Just For The Heck of It parade in Coombs. On the Aug. 27, they will be hosting a community business expo along with free entertainment and free admission.