After more than a quarter-century, Civitans giving up annual rodeo

Published 12:32 am Thursday, January 30, 2014

For the first time in more than 25 years, there will not be a Civitan Rodeo, club members decided last week.

This would’ve been the 26th Professional Cowboy Association sanctioned rodeo, which was generally held in February at the Covington Center Area. Winners shared in cash prizes totaling nearly $10,000.

Civitan President Greg White said the club was able generate between $175,000 to $200,000 from the rodeo project over the years.

“That money helped fund many Civitan projects, such as endowing a Civitan Scholarship at LBW, sending six or more area high school students annually to the Harding University Leadership Forum in Searcy, Ark.; providing funds for the needs of Montezuma Group Home residents, Community Christmas, wheelchair ramps, and more,” White said. “The specific emphasis of Civitan is helping mentally and physically challenged, and encouraging good citizenship – which is we were able to do with proceeds from the rodeo.”

However, there were several factors that led the club to its decision to cancel the event, White said.

“The cost of leasing the arena has risen in recent years, and we were no longer allowed to operate the concessions, which were a pretty significant profit center for us,” he said. “The economy has hurt involvement in horse events, and I believe has caused ticket sales to drop. We had a couple of break-even years, and finally last year, we lost several hundred dollars, so the club felt we could focus our efforts on more profitable projects.”

But that doesn’t mean that the rodeo is a lost cause, White said.

“We hope someone else will pick up the rodeo,” he said. “It has become a valued and fun part of our community’s activities each year. New ideas might provide the spark it needs to be viable again – maybe include a mutton busting or a Little Britches Rodeo. I believe this event lends support for the junior and high school rodeos that have been so prominent in Covington County, so we sure want to see everything possible done to encourage these events.”

White said without community support, the club couldn’t have continued the rodeo over the years.

“I especially want to thank the area merchants who supported the rodeo over the years,” he said. “Along with the ticket sales, their sponsorships allowed us to make the monies we did. I am convinced that among the greatest assets of our community are the strong civic groups that are here, and all of them would acknowledge that the support of local businesses allow them to prosper and serve the community.”