Monday, January 15, 2007

Mountainair rodeo grounds & Jr Rodeo

from the Thursday, January 11, 2007, MountainView Telegraph

Torrance OKs bid for improving Mountainair rodeo grounds


Almost one year after gaining a grant to improve the Mountainair rodeo grounds, the Torrance County Commission approved a $92,000 construction bid on a crow's nest at Wednesday's meeting.

Jr Rodeo may not qualify in some minds as a "cultural event." It is, however, a BIG DEAL here. More visitors come for Jr Rodeo than come to arts tour. I kid you not quoth Captain Queeg. What are the benefits of this group coming to Mountainair? For starters, whoever is sawing & hammering away to complete that $92,000 construction contract is either local labor earning money, out of town labor that will have to eat and maybe sleep somewhere while the job is in progress, or a mixture of the two. All to the good, all to the good - even if not a single one buys a single work of art or facsimile thereof.

I have had 2nd hand reports, one about a non-Mountainair resident who's been around long enough to know better and another regarding a recent relocatee, both with complaints about Lodger's Tax (also known as Occupancy Tax or Room Tax) funding being allocated to the junior rodeo. Granted, the rodeo folk don't buy art, often pack at least some of their own food, and sleep in campers and horsetrailers parked at the rodeo grounds to save money. If they didn't, I'd wonder about their authenticity. Been on the state fair circuit myself and slept in tack stalls and horsetrailers.

So what? Art and tourism are not the only businesses in town. The rodeo brings major business into the grocery store - and no doubt Gustin's and Meds as well. If there are truck or tire problems, then money ends up spent at Alpine, with a local mechanic, and/or in the auto supply store.

But let's take the long term view: any visitor who has had a good experience will spread the word that Mountainair is a good place to visit - and is more likely to return on a vacation or day trips. And more - promotional copy for town events & businesses emphasize "old fashioned" qualities and Southwestern authenticity. A small town rodeo exemplifies both. When rodeo and Jubilee coincide, Jubilee attendance swells and businesses benefit.

How can we build on that?

Are there any crafters or local food vendors out at the rodeo grounds selling? Have any local artisans thought about or researched items they could create to sell? Rodeo / Western ATC? Western art? Competitive horse folk may watch their dining and lodgin dollars very closely but they spend major money on their sport - including on high end custom and specialty items.

Any time rodeo coincides with a town event, promote the rodeo as an event attraction - one more reason to come to Mountainair.

2 comments:

  1. I thought your post about the rodeo was very good. I was going to mention the rodeo to you but knew you would pick up on it.

    Concessions at the rodeo is a great idea. The rodeo is a big deal for the locals. It's my understanding that it's one of the bigger rodeo circuits in the southwest. (Belen's rodeo grounds was featured in many major motion pictures. Cowboy Way, with Keiffer Sutherland comes to mind.)

    I really appreciate the rodeo. Although i've never attended one, and actually only driven in the rodeo grounds during a rodeo to drop a friend off, i love hearing the sound of the rodeo announcer on Sundays during the summer time. It's the sound of activity that i love. Ironically, most stores are closed on Sunday's, when they're in town.

    Anything that brings people into town is fine by me. The more grounded and established the better.

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  2. During the Mountainair Centennial, (non-cowboy) event organizers and promoters made much of Mountainair's ties to frontier and homesteading traditions, ranch life, the mythos and cultural gravitasof the American West, and all that good aggie stuff.

    Yet Ranchers' Day has been let languish in favor of events less intrinsic to farm and ranch tradition. Even Sunflower, elsewhere in the US an agrarian festival complete with tractor pulls and sunflower seed spitting contests, is here more arts and culture oriented. That is to say, culture in the sense of production of artifacts over creation of institutions. The rodeo is a cultural institution of the American West. As such, it too merits our interest and respect.

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