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.