Logistical and practical challenges related to Covid-19 have forced Warkworth Rodeo Club to cancel its traditional event on New Year’s Day, but it vows the event will be back in 2023.
Club secretary Paul Manton says it’s the first time in 60 years that the rodeo at the Warkworth Showgrounds has had to be cancelled, except for a few occasions when it had to be canned due to bad weather.
He says all competitors, club members and spectators would have had to be double vaccinated for the January 1, 2022, event and checking that they met this requirement was among the expected difficulties.
Moreover, cowboys from overseas would likely find it impossible to enter the country and even if they could, there would be little for them to compete for. The New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association has suspended its points system for wins at rodeos around the country in the wake of so many rodeo cancellations.
Mr Manton says even travel within the country has proved difficult for clubs, with many from outside the Auckland region reluctant to travel to the epicentre of New Zealand’s Covid outbreak.
He also cited uncertainty about border restrictions for domestic travel. South Island clubs had also cancelled rodeos, fearing they would not be able to attract competitors from the Auckland region.
He says the Warkworth club recognises that after months of lockdown, people were looking forward to a day out.
But he says putting on a rodeo involves considerable financial investment and organisation and the barriers to having a successful event were just too great.
“We are really just waiting for the dust to settle before we continue running these kind of events,” he says.
Mr Manton says otherwise the club is in good heart and is looking forward to returning in 2023.
He says the club recently purchased about 120 hectares of farmland just south of Wellsford, which will be turned into an “outdoor equine activity centre”. Part of the land will be used to rest rodeo bulls and horses, the rest will be made available to others involved in equine sports. There will also be opportunities for horse treks and overnight stays.