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Festivals & Events, Vendors & Entertainers

Rodeo's and Horse Events for a Fair, Festival or Event
by Tad Whitten, Promotion Associates

We all as children dreamed of owning a horse or being a cowboy. This common fantasy has preserved the interest in horse events and will continue for many generations.

A horse show or rodeo is an event where horse enthusiasts compete against one another by comparing their skills. This defi nition just about covers all equine events: racing, rodeos, jumping, trail rides, equitation, and breed shows.

Ever since the first horses, men have gathered to compare their animals. As civilization progressed, so did the number of uses, which the horse was put. This led to more comparisons, which sparked the very beginning of horse shows and rodeo events, comparing one horse and rider against another.

The first horse show of breeding classes, as we know them, took place in June, 1853, at Uppervilie, Virginia. In October, 1883, the first modern horse show was held at Gilmores Gardens, now known as Madison Square Gardens, in New York City. The first rodeo in the history books dates to 1882, held in the small town of Pecos, Texas.

With the turn of the century, there have been many changes in horse competition. Today, horse shows and rodeos combined total 17,400 annually. These fi gures convert into 327 million dollars worth of economical impact to our country each year.

The present-day events are a pleasing form of entertainment. They are fun for the riders, owners, and the spectators. They can also be fun for the people who coordinate them if everyone knows his job and fully carries it out. A poorly planned show disturbs the spectators, exhibitors, and management.

Successful events depend on competent managers, assisted by knowledgeable committees, willing to carry out the smallest detail. From the largest shows down to the one-day informal events, someone has the job of organizing and carrying it out. This may be one individual, a large committee or a professional manager. That brings us to the point, how does one put on a horse show or rodeo?

Before a club, organization or individual decides to put on a horse show or rodeo, there are four key considerations involved: available experience, exhibitors, location, and fi nances. Each of these must be thought out very carefully. These factors will determine what type of event can be held and if it is feasible.

It is almost a necessity that someone in the group has had some experience with this type of event. This experience may have been as an exhibitor, manager, secretary, or in any position where he or she has been able to observe event operations. If no one has had any past connection with a horse show or rodeo, it is very advisable to consult an experienced manager. The type of experience a manager has will be very helpful in planning all areas of rodeo and horse show production.

In choosing what type of event you will want to host will also depend on your area. You will have to look at what type of exhibitors you feel you can attract with your budget. Exhibitors range from backyard horsemen to specific breed professional trainers. Also you will need to check confl icting show dates. More shows have failed due to date confl icts than poor management.

Your location will also affect what type of event you can host. You must have a fl at area with seating for spectators nearby. Racetracks with grandstands work out very well for outdoor events. With the invention of portable fence panels, temporary arenas can be very easily constructed.

The fourth key is financing. There are several sources for the initial money needed. If it is a club or other organization, you may have to dip into your treasury to cover such things as printing, advertising, insurance, trophies, etc. The event may be subsidized, such as a show held in conjunction with a state or county fair. The list of available sponsors is never ending. A few are local western stores, soft drink companies, and car-truck dealers. These are organizations that would support your event, provided your audience uses or has a use for their product or service.

The single most important factor to remember is that you will be marketing a form of entertainment to your spectators. They will be expecting to be entertained and you must do just that. On this depends the future of your event.

Managers in conjunction with a professional rodeo stock contractor can do just this; they are experts at keeping the crowd on their toes and in suspense, making every second breathtaking. If your spectators are not enjoying themselves, they probably will not be back next year.

Planning a Successful Event,
Table of Contents

1. Planning
2. Organizing
3. Fundraising
4. Corporate Sponsorship
5. Promotion
6. Buying Media
7. Setting the Image of the Event
8. Operating
9. Buying Music Acts
10. Grounds Attractions
11. Sound, Lighting & Staging
12. Sample Artist Contract and Rider
13. From the Entertainers View
14. Backstage Hospitality
15. Talent Contests
16. Queen Contests
17. Parades
18. Horse Events
19. Rodeo's and Horse Events
20. Farm Youth Program
21. Choosing a Carnival
22. Concessions
23. Legalities and Risk Management
24. Event Insurance
25. Royalties
26. Location/Physical Facilities
27. Grounds and Facilities
28. Office and Staffing
29. Tractor Pulls
30. Estimating Crowd Attendance
31. Festival Evaluation
32. Event Impact Studies
33. Conclusion, Final Word

12 Ways to Kill an Event

Bibliography: Sources and Contributors