by Spencer Kemp
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As rodeo committees across Saskatchewan and Manitoba struggle with changing Covid-19 restrictions, the Whitewood Chacachas Rodeo is going ahead in August.
Jennalee Beutler, Treasurer of Whitewood Chacachas Rodeo Committee, says her committee is already making plans and booking stock contractors for an event on August 20 and 21.
Beutler notes that if group size restrictions do not loosen, the rodeo committee will have to cancel the event.
“At this point, we’re planning for it to go ahead. We’re booking stock contractors, the bigger things that need to be booked at this time. We’re hoping to send out sponsorship letters in June. We know that the CCA is currently working with the Government of Saskatchewan on the event capacity requirements and spectator limits. So basically we’re just hoping that it goes forward but if there’s no significant changes to the spectator requirements we would have to cancel,” Beutler explained.
“Some years we barely break even as it is so if we have to limit spectators in any shape or form we’re just going to be losing money. And why go through that just to lose money. We’re planning for it to go ahead, but if the government doesn’t change things it’ll have to be cancelled.”
Beutler says that the rodeo committee has not encountered any issues with participants so far, but is in need of spectators.
She says that a majority of the funds made during the rodeo are made through food, drink, and admission fees.
“Even with the current guidelines we’re allowed unlimited participants, it’s just the participants aren’t the ones who bring the money, they’re the ones we pay with prizes. We need the spectators to pay the gate fees. The other thing is the beer gardens, right now we’re not allowed a beer garden. That is a big one where a lot of our revenue comes from.
“We need the spectators. We need the beer gardens. We need to be able to sell food at our canteen, otherwise, there just is not enough sponsorship money out there without spectators.”
With no events in 2020, Beutler says the rodeo committee saw a loss in revenue, though it was not a significant loss.
“Some years we can turn a decent profit because it’s one of our major fundraisers other years we just break even. We still have some set costs, even when we don’t have events we have a pretty big rodeo grounds. We have power, we have insurance that we still have to pay. There was a high school rodeo in September at our rodeo grounds and they were able to go ahead and our rodeo committee ran the kitchen for that and so we did that as a fundraiser and it was fairly successful, so that helps pay for some of our expenses last year. We ended up with overall not a significant loss for the entire year.”
She says her biggest concern is community interest in the rodeo. If the rodeo does not happen for two years in a row, Beutler says it could be troublesome.
“Our committee has enough money saved over the years that financially speaking we could wait out another year. But I think it gets to the point where after you miss two events, getting that momentum back and organizing again and bringing it back after two years of being missed, I think that’s worse than financially as long as we can do a couple of other fundraisers throughout the year.
“I’m sure there are plenty of rodeo committees that would have a hard time coming back if they have to miss two years of profits.”
There are additional plans to hold a family rodeo on June 19. Beutler says due to the size of the family rodeo there shouldn’t be much issue with establishing it.
“We’re waiting to see where things are at in the middle of June. It’s not a rodeo that takes a ton of planning, but we’ll get entries two weeks before and we’ll start looking at booking stock and stuff at the end of May.
“There’s the racing, livestock, sales, and rodeo guidelines that are put out by the Government of Saskatchewan, and those are the guidelines that are currently in place and have the event capacity requirements and general guidance with physical distancing rules. So that’s what we’ll be following,” Beutler said.
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator