EDITORIAL: Rodeos give local communities chance to shine

The smell of leather and livestock sweeps across the area in coming days as Nyssa and Vale stage their annual rodeos. More than winnings and bragging rights are at stake.

Sometimes it’s easy to miss how much work goes into these events. Volunteers labor for months to stage a few days of roping and riding. They’re improving rodeo grounds, rounding up competitors, organizing royalty, grand marshals and flag teams. They’re corralling sponsors, planning marketing, and orchestrating the myriad details that go into each evening’s performance.

Their work brings out thousands of people. In the American West, rodeo remains an icon of our rural lifestyle, even for those who have never strapped on a set of spurs. The pageantry of rodeo stirs patriotic feelings that few other events can match. The national anthem sung by someone standing in arena dirt somehow seems sweeter and more soulful.

And those crowds give communities themselves a chance to shine. And that’s an opportunity which shouldn’t be overlooked. In both Nyssa and Vale, organizations put on other events such as parades and ranch breakfasts to entertain those drawn to town by rodeo.

We should all pause to consider how we can help our communities put on their best faces for these guests. Everyone can help. Homeowners, particularly those along parade routes or the path to arenas, ought to step outside and consider the curb appeal of their property. Let’s tidy up, trimming that grass, rounding up clutter, providing a welcoming scene.

Businesses ought to do the same. Wash those windows. Sweep those sidewalks. Hang a banner or a flag.

Businesses should seize this chance to market themselves. This is the chance to connect with people who might become customers – or even employees. Hold a sale. Give away cold water on parade day. Hand out quarters to kids. Do something that shows business operators in these small towns are welcoming and can provide the personal touch you’d never get from Walmart or Home Depot. This takes effort, this takes work, yet the empty main street storefronts in both Vale and Nyssa testify to what happens when you aren’t determined to succeed.

And spread the word, too. Every resident and business operator can be a tourism director, alerting family, friends, vendors and customers to the rodeos and events. Don’t assume everyone you know is aware of the calendar. Invite them to town to share in the fun. Promise to get their kids into a parade.

The volunteers who stage these events earn appreciation for what they do. Now, the rest of us can pitch in to build on the traditions and the attractions to strengthen these communities one visitor at a time. – LZ