Much like many rodeo and equestrian events across the country, the cancellation of the Sisters Rodeo in 2020 over COVID-19 restrictions was no exception. With the decreasing cases of COVID-19 and daily increases in vaccinations, many public events have been working to make arrangements in holding modified events in their respective communities across the state. For rural parts of Oregon, events like the Sisters Rodeo are major local revenue generators that businesses desperately depend on, and with that the jobs they provide.
On March 3rd, the three Deschutes County Commissioners sent a joint letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown pressuring the governor to take action, in particular to have the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to issue a “provisional permit” to allow alcohol sales for the 2021 Sisters Rodeo. The county’s commission is comprised of two republicans and one democrat.
“2021 will be the 80th anniversary of the Sisters Rodeo. The rodeo has been a fixture in Deschutes County for all 80 years, and the importance of the event from both a community and economic perspective cannot be underestimated.” the letter to Gov. Brown stated. “The Sisters Rodeo is an outdoor ticketed event, with assigned seating which allows us to control the crowd safely given its location on private grounds.”
The commissioners also pointed to was the ability to work on consultation with the County’s Environment Health staff. “The rodeo will require everyone within the Rodeo complex to wear a mask, distancing protocols would be in place and sanitizing stations will be readily available. In addition, during the Rodeo audio and video presentations will be placed to further encourage fans to comply with all safety rules and regulations.”
The letter further explained that the county commissioners understood that OLCC would not issue a permit due to the anticipated size of the event. “Without alcohol sales, our sponsors, Coors and Crown Royal would make it impossible for us to have the event.” the commissioners said. “We ask that OLCC issue a provisional permit in this case.”
“I can only HOPE all the support will make the OLCC open up and give the Sister’s Rodeo all the support its needs.” said Commissioner Patti Adair in an email to NW Horse Report.
Rodger Dwight with the Sisters Rodeo Board of Directors spoke with NW Horse Report about their optimism of being able to hold the rodeo this year. “We have a plan as to how we’re going to do it, and PRCA has a plan with their athletes and we’re incorporating their plan with ours,” said Dwight. “A plan has been submitted to the Governor’s office and there is a major meeting they are holding at the end of March about all big events throughout the state”.
When asked about the financial impacts for the Sisters Rodeo from already having to cancel the rodeo in 2020, Dwight further expressed that they had to “tighten down” financially. “We’re okay financially, but barely. It’s a very volunteer based operation, but that’s become hard with so many people themselves struggling financially and being out of work.”
“We are trying to expand the discussions about the economic impact. We’re talking
about millions of dollars coming into the county during the rodeo that impacts our community.” said Dwight.
This article was updated at 3:50pm on 3/10 in include comments made to NW Horse Report from Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair following the initial release of this story.