Cavalcade Rodeo officials decided they will hold the event for the 74th year despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.
The rodeo, which will run from July 14-19, is the world’s largest amateur rodeo that annually brings in thousands of spectators and competitors.
Cavalcade Rodeo Chairman Jeff Bute said the board has gone back and forth for weeks trying to decide if it is safe to hold Cavalcade at the Osage County Fairgrounds amidst coronavirus concerns.
“One thing about this event is that we didn’t realize how well set up we are for this since we are on a 120-acre facility and operate fully on 200 acres,” Bute said. “This has been an emotional rollercoaster. There were doubt and concerns. We are still learning because this thing changes daily.”
There were a few things that needed to be changed. The barbeque event typically held alongside the auction was canceled because it was an indoor event.
Bute said putting a lot of people indoors for too long seemed like an unsafe idea. The rodeo decided to cancel the barbeque and move the auction to an outdoor space instead.
The nightly concert tickets are only being sold at 25 percent capacity. The outdoor venue at the fairgrounds is set up to hold about 4,000 people but only 1,000 tickets are available for purchase.
Bute said Osage County officials and the rodeo’s sponsors are all supportive of the event being held this year.
“It’s a level of responsibility because we don’t want to disappoint the people who trust us,” Bute said. “We want to make sure we are safe and have done our part as far as the areas potentially at risk.”
Pawhuska native Cody Robinson has attended and competed in the Cavalcade Rodeo before. He said he’s not worried about getting sick but is excited to attend an event for the first time in months.
“I just want to see friends and family,” Robinson said. “Being here with people, you don’t get to see many people anymore, so it’s good to do something.”