By Pauline Masson
The Liberty Field horse arena may have to undergo improvements to create holding pens and chutes for broncos and bulls waiting to enter the competition ring during a rodeo that is slated to be held there in October, according to City Administrator Harold Selby.
The exact weekend of the event is yet to be determined, but it will be in October, Selby said.
Outlaw Rodeo Productions, Columbia, which has put on the Eureka Firefighters Association rodeo for the past 20 years, agreed to move the event to Pacific when the firefighters decided to stop holding an annual rodeo.
The Eureka rodeo is the last event of the season, producers say, and has developed a large following.
Rodeo Productions representatives visited Liberty Field and said that with the addition of a few accoutrements, the location and layout of the horse arena was ideal for a rodeo.
City officials, the park board and tourism commission — which pledged $10,000 toward the project — have all endorsed the rodeo and Selby said once a contract is signed the city is ready to make the alterations necessary to turn the arena into a rodeo venue.
“The rodeo organizers came here and looked at the arena and said it was ideally set up for a rodeo,” Selby said. “They provided us with a list of what needs to be added to accommodate all the participants.”
A list of items organizers say are needed for a rodeo include an announcer stand, barrel racing barrels, concession service, an equipment operator to water and work the arena, a forklift to set and load chutes and pens, gate and parking attendants, grain for livestock and a loading chute suitable for a 2,000-pound bull.
Mayor Herb Adams said he would like to see the Pacific Partnership co-host the rodeo with the city. It would be an opportunity for the city and the Pacific Partnership to each make some funds for their respective programs.
Adams proposes a joint venture with the city providing the infrastructure for the event and the Partnership “doing what it knows how to do” by organizing vendors, selling event sponsorships and promoting and advertising the event.
Revenues would be split with the gate fees going into a Liberty Field improvement fund and concession, vendor and sponsorships profits going to the Partnership.
“Some of the sponsorship funds would have to go toward prizes for competitors,” Selby said. “The rodeo people tell us that with higher prize money more skilled the rodeo riders will come.”
“I’m asking for the Partnership to play a major role in this,” Adams said. “I have heard one or two objections. There are good reasons why the Partnership should come to mind for this — they are the ones who have the most experiences for events of this sort. This is a support to Old Downtown and they have an Old Downtown mission. It just makes sense.
“Someone said, ‘They may say no,’ and my answer is why would they when every time they came to us we have always said yes. Why would they say no?”
Adams assigned Selby and Park Board President Stephen Flannery to meet with the Partnership and try to enlist them to co-host the event.
Parking for rodeo animals, contestants and patrons will need to be worked out, Flannery said.
The Pacific Soccer Association, which uses the majority of the park during its winter soccer season, agreed to not schedule games during the rodeo weekend, but the fields cannot be used for parking, according to Flannery.
“We don’t want to tear up the soccer fields and then have to put them back together when the rodeo is over,” Flannery said. “We’ll come up with a parking plan.”
Selby is to be the point man, coordinating all the activities for the event, Adams said.
This is the 25th anniversary tour for Outlaw Rodeo Productions, which also hosts the Gerald Saddle Club Rodeo in June and the Washington Town and Country Fair bullride in August.