Rodeos today look a whole lot different than the early ones held among working cowboys and vaqueros in weathered, dusty arenas. And they cost a lot more to put on.
A two-day rodeo requires months of planning and a whole lot of flare. Spectators expect entertainers, commentators, concessioners, professional judges and seasoned cowboys.
For the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, a volunteer group tasked with organizing the Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Rodeo in May and The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo in August, it is a labor of love.
The group starts planning the May Rodeo as soon as the August one wraps up.
John Landino, president of the committee, said that with so much money riding on a successful event, the group’s 102 members spend hours poring over every detail.
“People don’t realize how much it costs to put together a rodeo,” he said.
On average, the spring rodeo costs $66,000. The Pro Rodeo Committee not only has to find a way to cover those costs, it needs to make a profit. The group gives an average of $20,000 away in scholarships and to local causes, including awards to breast cancer and veterans support groups, each year.
With ticket sales covering only 30 percent of costs, signing up national and local sponsors is critical.
Landino said several volunteers head to Las Vegas to meet with national sponsors while locally, volunteers ask businesses to buy a banner or sponsor an event.
“We have been very fortunate that we have a lot of loyal, local sponsors,” he said. “But, it has been more difficult to get sponsors in recent years.”
Banners that line the ring of the arena typically go for $250 and there are 45 banner spots available.
A business can also sponsor one of the day’s seven events for $500-$800.
Then there are additional banners near the chutes that cost more to sponsor.
All money raised over cost is given away, since the rodeo committee is a 501-3c nonprofit.
Everyone that works on the project does so because they love the sport and supporting the community, Landino said.
He and his wife, Nancy, joined the committee 13 years ago, just a few weeks after moving to town.
After several years, Landino was roped into serving on the board, which he has done for the last six years. This is his first year as acting president.
Landino said the group’s focus is offering scholarships to graduating high school seniors. And not just to seniors heading to a four-year university, but those who want to pursue a vocation, such as firefighting or cosmetology.
He hopes the exciting and fun changes to this year’s spring rodeo will bring more people out.
The rodeo will start earlier each day to take advantage of the warmer weather and on Thursday, local cowboys and cowgirls can participate.
Costs of the May rodeo
• Stock contractor: $18,000 to $20,000 for two
performances; covers all costs associated with
transporting animals and preparing them for the
• Professional judges: $4,000 to $5,000
• Sound system and sound engineer: $1,500
• Port-A-Pots: $2,000
• Application fee to become a PRCA sanctioned
• Security: $500
• VIP tent, food and entertainment: $2,500
• Ice: $600
• Venue fee to Town of Payson: $1,500
• Entertainers: $2,500
• Prize money: $17,000