Time to saddle up for the 97th annual Tucson Rodeo
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The 97th annual Tucson Rodeo is just hours away.
It’s back after a one year hiatus due to the pandemic. Tonight, officials and participants are finishing up last minute preparations for the rodeo’s return.
“We’re reloading and recharging here because we had a year’s vacation that we hadn’t planed on. So, we had to shake off the cobwebs a little bit to figure out what we were missing,” chairman Mark Baird said.
He says last year’s cancellation left a big hole for everyone who took part in the Tucson staple.
“It felt like something had been taken away from us that we couldn’t get back. It was tough to swallow. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made when we had to pull the plug and say we can’t do it. It was hard. It was a lot of sleepless nights,” Baird says.
Now that the rodeo is just one sleep away, Baird says it feels like Christmas eve.
This Tucson tradition is back with a vengeance and better than ever. Behind the scenes, vendors are finishing set up and contestants are out prepping for the big day.
”We kind of felt like everyone put us on the back burner and stuff. So, we made it a point that we’re going to be back with a vengeance. We want to make it special and good and make sure everyone has a good time when they come out,” Baird said.
That’s also the goal of operation manager, Stacy Madigan. It’s her first time taking the reins after Gary William’s retirement.
Madigan says ticket sales were a little slow at first because people were unsure if the rodeo would return this year, but now she says ticket sales are through the roof. There’s also a new addition to the 97th Tucson Rodeo: a VIP package.
“Those are selling like hotcakes. Our popular vaquero club has been filling up real fast. We’re about sold out for the entire week,” she said.
Madigan says the Tucson Rodeo is full steam ahead and she can’t wait to welcome everyone back.
“It’s part of our heritage, part of our culture. It’s our life down in southern Arizona,” she added.
The rodeo starts Saturday, February 19 and runs through Feb. 27.
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