By Pat McNamara April 30, 2020
As with the rest of the world, the Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association (SCCFRA) has been negatively affected by the recent Covid 19 pandemic.
Harry Dotson, president of the SCCFRA quotes: “There has been no prior precedent to compare with and it’s been like every day, body blows to the organization” Closing Pioneer Hall to previously scheduled events and canceling the 105th annual Sonoita horse races was the right thing to do but still a very difficult decision. Dotson stated that he spent many sleepless nights worried about the financial effects of the closure and the loss of the facility to the community as a traditional gathering place.
“We want the community to know that cancelling the races was not a decision we took lightly at all,” said Fairgrounds Manager Lacy Beyer. “We understand the effects cancelling it has on the community. We went over every possible solution to it and we couldn’t see any way to go forward. It was the logical thing to do.”
At this point in time, Dotson feels that expenses can be met, even with the loss of revenue. Because the Fairgrounds received funds from the federal payroll protection plan, the two salaried employees, Beyer and Grounds Manager Howard Brollier, can continue in their positions, at least for the short term. With an eye on the budget, only spending what is necessary, Dotson is cautiously optimistic that SCCFRA is financially secure for the near future.
Beyer is now working remotely from home, where she also has the responsibility of home schooling her four children, with schools closed due to the pandemic. This is a challenge for Beyer. However, she is lucky to have family available to help her when she needs to come into the fairgrounds office.
Beyer and Dotson both lamented the loss of revenue from the cancellations, but remain optimistic about the future as they look forward to the upcoming AZ Jr. High School Rodeo Finals, a High School Rodeo, the Sonoita Rodeo Royalty Competition and an all-breed horse show, all tentatively scheduled to take place in May, depending on state mandates for gatherings at that time. As of now, the Sonoita Labor Day Rodeo and the Santa Cruz County Fair are still scheduled for September.
The outdoor facilities at the Fairgrounds are open for use, including the arenas, the Rotary Park and the ballfield.