A young rider gets some help running the barrels from her dad at the Sonoita Labor Day Junior Rodeo. Photo by Nick Robb

“The vibe is great,” Lacy Beyer, Sonoita Fairgrounds manager said, looking out at the crowd at the 105th Sonoita Labor Day Rodeo, held Sept 5, 6 and 7.

The County Board of Supervisors had approved holding the rodeo only a few weeks before the event, with restrictions that included limiting the size of the audience and adequate social distancing.

Rodeo chairman and Board member Randy Scouten said that it was a challenge to put together the event, but that the committee “had done lots of preplanning in the hopes of being able to hold the rodeo.”

Despite the additional handicap of not being able to utilize inmates for maintenance and preparation due to the pandemic, he praised the many community volunteers who helped get everything ready for the rodeo.

“We had so many awesome volunteers and our board has been so good,” he said.

The long lines typically seen at the rodeo gates were eliminated by having most people prepay for admission online. A new system at the back gates to have competitors and campers prepay also streamlined getting people onto the grounds.

The event was a financial success for the Fairgrounds which has lost significant income this year due to the cancelling of the races, the fair and private events. Although the net profit from the rodeo was down approximately 25% compared to last year’s rodeo, Beyer estimates that the event brought in approximately $25,000.

She feels the event was a morale booster for the community.

“Everybody was so positive about it,” she said. “Everyone you talked to was just happy to be here and it’s given people a sense of normalcy.”