Anthony Thomas of Humble, Texas, rides Matrix as he competes Aug. 26, 2019, in bareback during the Oregon Trail Rodeo at the Adams County Fairgrounds.

Members of the Adams County Agricultural Society Board of Directors still hope to have an Oregon Trail Rodeo this year, but whether the event takes place this year is contingent on getting enough sponsorships.

Board members decided during a special meeting Tuesday to hold off until their regular meeting on July 14 making a decision whether to hold the rodeo.

In the meantime, board members, as well as Oregon Trail Rodeo committee members, will work to solicit sponsors.

The Oregon Trail Rodeo is scheduled for Aug. 21-23 at the fairgrounds and to occur in conjunction with Kool-Aid Days.

Fairgrounds Manager Jolene Laux said it takes $125,000 to put on the rodeo. Fairgrounds coffers have subsidized that amount in past years.

Of the total it takes to hold the rodeo, about $87,000 comes from sponsorships.

So far, about $16,000 has been committed toward sponsorships.

The fairgrounds lost about $73,000 this spring from canceled reservations due to the threat of COVID-19. That includes events inside the activities building and other fairgrounds facilities, as well as the campgrounds.

The fairgrounds were unable to host the Nebraska Good Sams State RV Rally, which has taken place at the Adams County Fairgrounds for more than 25 years.

“So it’s hard for us to be able to subsidize,” Laux said. “If we don’t get our sponsorships this year, plus our lack of income out here from rentals, then it’s hard for us to put on the rodeo because we’re lacking funds as well.”

The fairgrounds activities building will play host to its first event in months on Monday.

“I’m glad to be able to have people back in here and be able to start hosting events again,” Laux said. “Obviously we’re following certain guidelines and people have to turn their plans in and get them approved, but I’m just glad we’re being able to open up and move forward a little bit.”

Holding an event at the fairgrounds requires the submission of plans to, and approval of, the South Heartland District Health Department.

A plan also must be submitted to the fairgrounds office, letting Laux know whether there’s anything she needs to work on with the event so it will succeed.

Kool-Aid Days representatives were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting and said they are still planning to hold their event.

A motion was made during Tuesday’s meeting not to hold the rodeo this year, which failed 3-5.

Board member and Oregon Trail Rodeo chairman Scott Hinrichs said it’s especially important this year to hold the rodeo.

“It’s just good family entertainment, especially this year when we’ve been shut down,” he said. “If there’s any feasible way of making it work we need to try. We’re just going to have to hit the streets and find out if the sponsors are still on board or not, instead of making a decision without talking to them.

“It’s all sponsorship driven, the rodeos. We don’t use any taxpayer money for the rodeos. We can’t.”

Phase 3 of reopening, which began June 22, allows for 75% of capacity for outdoor activities, which would make holding the rodeo feasible.

“Safety’s first,” Hinrichs said. “That’s our number one priority. We’ll follow the guidelines to a tee with everything they tell us. Even at 75% capacity. We think it’s feasible if we can get sponsor money up there.”

He said Tuesday he is negotiation with a TV network that might pay to broadcast the rodeo.

“There are things up in the air that are huge,” he said.


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