By Beth Cornell
President of Cave Creek Rodeo Days
Did anyone catch Cave Creek Rodeo Days on The Cowboy Channel over Memorial Day weekend?
That’s right. Your hometown rodeo was catapulted into the national spotlight and rodeo history when The Cowboy Channel broadcast all performances to nearly a million viewers. Our live feed competition at the Cave Creek Memorial Arena was the first live Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeo since the pandemic shutdown.
But getting there was no easy feat. Our 43rd annual rodeo festivities were originally set for March 16 to March 29, and we anticipated a record turnout. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, with cases starting to spike in Arizona in mid-March. Our board chose to postpone the event to Memorial Day weekend, hoping the virus would subside.
Unfortunately, we were faced with some tough decisions when the state’s shelter-in-place order was extended through May 15. So many people count on events like ours to take care of their families. The financial impact is also felt by our local businesses. With PRCA-sanctioned rodeos canceling across the country, the organization felt it was more important than ever to “Kick Open the Chutes” and give rodeo a restart for the 2020 season.
Thanks to the PRCA, The Cowboy Channel and the Justin Sports Medicine Team, we worked quickly to figure out the new landscape of our event. Together, we developed specific ground rules and sanitation guidelines to allow a safe way to move forward while adhering to the governor’s mandates and the CDC guidelines. While fans were disappointed that they could not attend, we were overwhelmed by the positive response we received from them and our sponsors.
Our stellar lineup of talent included four-time PRCA World Champion Tuf Cooper and 19-year-old superstar Shad Mayfield, who competed in tie-down roping and team roping taking the All-Around Cowboy award from our event. The rodeo also featured bareback riders Clayton Biglow and Richmond Champion and bull riders Boudreaux Campbell and Stetson Wright. In all, our total payout was $78,372.
It was a historic weekend that demonstrated how resilient our rodeo family is. But it’s also important to point that our members and volunteers work year-round to help the community. The Cave Creek Rodeo Days organization has donated more than $72,000 in the last three years to support rodeo grounds improvements and more than a dozen local and state charities.
There are so many people to thank for helping us achieve success in the face of a global pandemic. The PRCA, the Cowboy Channel and the Justin Sports Medicine team did an outstanding job in helping us provide a safe, much-needed platform for the event.
Our Cave Creek Rodeo Days membership, royalty committee, volunteers and generous sponsors deserve our gratitude for their dedication and support.
Our Cave Creek Rodeo Days board of directors is especially grateful to the Desert Foothills community. We’re hoping 2021 will be virus free and that we can plan many more thrilling rodeos for years to come.