With sadness, I read about the ills of the Payson Rodeo. As a former chamber manager during the 100th World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, I wonder what happened.
The rodeo grounds at Rumsey Park were decaying. Many of us wanted to rebuild, instead of having a cement arena in the middle of scrub oak. We feared (the rodeo would lose) its charm. Visitors loved our real, Old West rodeo. Close to the action, ponderosa pines swayed above visitors offering shade.
Over 300 Paysonites and business volunteers helped or there would have been no rodeo. Proceeds from the rodeo and festivals plus $10,000 a year from the town, went to advertise Payson. The two chamber employees pay came from membership fees. Simple, but it worked.
We packed the rodeo grounds and even sold out. Those were, “The good old days.”
Now are we too big for our britches placing our rodeo in trouble?
Did we go too fast, too soon, to something we weren’t ready to handle?
Are we something the public didn’t really want us to be?
How many times have you heard, “I miss the old Rodeos”?
We were covered in grime and sweat, our worn western duds often full of mud, our boots full of water sometimes working in downpours. We weren’t big city folks duded up pretending to play cowboy. You can’t fool the public, they want it real. They want to see a little grime.
But then, maybe they didn’t really like us after all. Maybe we were wrong. Did we lose our charm? Did we sell our rodeo? Who owns the rodeo? Maybe it doesn’t matter who owns the rodeo, or why. Or, maybe, our old buddies working together can bring the charm and magic back before it’s gone.