Organizers of the longest-running rodeo in Utah say the annual event will take place, but the day and the time will have to change - for this year, anyway.
Just two months ago, organizers feared the Neola Rodeo would have to be canceled before its 60th season because of financial problems. However, thanks to renewed efforts, determination and donations, the rodeo and associated events are well on their way to becoming a reality, after a few minor changes.LaJean Rasmussen, Neola Rodeo chairwoman, said the rodeo - which has traditionally been held on the afternoon of July 4 - has been moved to the evening of July 3. The change will ensure that bucking stock will be provided by a well-known contractor and may allow more people to attend the event, she said.
"I took a survey of Roosevelt businesses who made donations and private individuals who contributed and the vast majority said they want the rodeo to continue. People are really positive about it."
In April, rodeo organizers feared that a lack of funds and high liability-insurance costs would force them to cancel the event, which has been held at the Neola Rodeo Grounds in the town of 700 each Fourth of July for the past 59 years. However, after community meetings, organizers decided to do everything possible to save the small town's most prestigious event.
Using the slogans, "Come Home Neola," and "Neola Wants You," Rasmussen says former area residents, families, friends and other groups are invited to spend the upcoming holiday weekend participating in the Fourth of July events in Neola on the evening of the 3rd and morning of the 4th and then enjoy the area's fishing and camping opportunities.
"We realize people prefer to leave the area on long weekends to camp or visit family, but this year, we hope they'll have relatives and friends travel this way and come home and stay home to participate in the planned festivities."
If all goes as planned, organizers say they'll use revenue to fix up the rodeo grounds to make the event even bigger and better next year.
July 3 activities include the traditional barbecue dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. and a country concert from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The rodeo, which has been approved by the Western States Rodeo Association, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 11 and under. Following the rodeo, a country/western dance will be held.
On July 4, a patriotic program will be held at the Neola LDS Church at 10 a.m.