Announced Jan. 14 on Facebook, the Cowtown Pro Rodeo Committee will not hold the three-day event due to the high costs of running an event as large as the Pro Rodeo.
“Cowtown Pro Rodeo as an organization has not folded,” states the committee’s Facebook post Jan. 15.
The organization relies heavily on the support of the community through donations and sponsorships. With the economic downturn affecting Saskatchewan and the rest of the country, sponsorships have gone “way, way” down, according to committee member Karen Southwood.
“It is very expensive to put on a large event like the Cowtown Pro Rodeo, and unfortunately we have been affected by the (economic) downturn,” said Southwood.
Royce Pettyjohn, manager of community and economic development and Main Street Program co-ordinator, says not-for-profit groups such as the rodeo committee help to drive the town’s economy.
“These groups deserve our recognition and support for their work. They impact our community and support us in so many ways,” said Pettyjohn.
Former secretary for the Cowtown Pro Rodeo Committee Terri Mason is “extremely disappointed” by the decision to not hold the rodeo this year.
“The ramifications for the community are huge,” Mason said.
The Cowtown Pro Rodeo draws in tourist from all over the southwest and even further. Many of those people spend money at the hotels, restaurants and stores in town.
“Every time there is an event here there will be tourist dollars. That generates and stimulates the local economy,” Pettyjohn said.
For the past few years the Cowtown Pro Rodeo partnered with the Heritage Festival to bring a fuller experience to the town and its visitors.
The Heritage Committee’s immediate thoughts after finding out about the rodeo’s cancellation is the impact on tourist dollars during the summer.
“Unfortunately, the effect of the absence of the Pro Rodeo will be realized by the Maple Creek business owners this summer,” said Mason.
To try and counteract the potential loss, the Heritage Committee met Jan. 13 to discuss possible options. They came to the decision to hold a two-day Heritage Festival July 21 and 22.
“This is just a stop-gap measure. We will look at it again next year,” said Pettyjohn.
The two-day festival will go ahead, but the committee is currently unsure of the events, look of it and entertainment during the event.
While the rodeo is a no-go for 2017, Southwood said the committee is still fundraising in the hopes of hosting the event next year.
“We haven’t folded, just postponed the rodeo this year. It will not affect the fundraising we have planned,” Southwood said.
The next fundraiser planned for the Cowtown Pro Rodeo is a comedy event at the Armoury Feb. 17 with Jimmy the Janitor.
The committee will continue to meet and plan for upcoming years.
“We would like to see the rodeo back again next year,” said Southwood.
Pettyjohn also would like to see the rodeo committee come together and find the support they need to have the rodeo return for 2018.