Custer Ranch Rodeo 2020

Yesterday I stuck 34 letters in the mailbox and I didn’t know how to feel about it.

They were letters written to the businesses and individuals who help out as sponsors each year at the ranch rodeo we’ve been putting on since 2007.

Beau and I went back and forth this year on whether or not to move ahead with plans for this year’s event, which has been scheduled for June 20 since last year.  In the end we decided to go for it despite the uncertainty of what COVID19 will look like two months from now.  Unless the government shuts us down — and our ears are open for exactly that — Custer Ranch Rodeo 2020 is on.  We’re gambling that the pandemic will be under control by then, and we’re assuming that the ranch community will be long overdue for a get-together, for normalcy, by then.

The teams that compete at the ranch rodeo are raring and ready to go — all of the slots for competition are already spoken for.  Somebody has joked that we can hand out face masks and rubber gloves as the team members register that day!  I’m thinking, too, that a few economy-size tubs of hand sanitizer wouldn’t hurt.  It’s an outdoor event and the contestants will be in closer contact with horses and cattle than each other, but still I know some folks will be wary, and maybe for good reason.

The toughest thing is, it takes a little bit of money to run a ranch rodeo.  And that’s where the sponsors come in.  Every year we ask them for help to pay for event insurance, for back tags for the cattle, for the calcutta permit, for sanctioning fees, for awards, and more.  And so many of them faithfully pitch in year after year.

But here we are this year on the brink of a nationwide economic disaster.  I’ve heard some predictions that the economy is headed toward Great Depression-type lows.  Agricultural markets are volatile, people are out of work, non-essential businesses have been shut down…

So how, exactly, in light of all this, does one send a letter expecting a sponsorship in return?

The thing is, one doesn’t expect a sponsorship.  One writes to let folks know the event is scheduled to proceed in the name of all things fun and normal and hopeful… and then one says, We completely understand if you choose not to participate as a sponsor this year.

So that’s that.  Only time will tell where our world will be by June 20 this year.  Will we actually be allowed to hold the ranch rodeo?  Will spectators feel safe enough to attend?  Will any of our usual sponsors feel confident enough to donate?

Like people everywhere… and never forgetting that what we’re trying to do here is completely non-essential… we can only wait and see.

For now, a few of my favorite photos from last year’s ranch rodeo (photos by KNZ Design & Marketing).

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© Tami Blake

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