The Sallisaw Lions Club has announced that they will be cancelling this year's annual Lions Club Rodeo due to COVID-19 concerns related to the increasing numbers of cases throughout the county and state.
Rodeo Chairman Marley Abell stated Tuesday that a meeting had been held with the Lions Club board and also city and local officials to reach the decision to cancel.
"Three weeks ago we were sure we would be having the rodeo," Abell said. But increasing coronavirus numbers over the past three weeks raised more concerns about holding the rodeo on it's scheduled dates of Aug. 6-8.
Abell pointed out that it requires approximately 150 volunteers from within the community to run the three day event. The majority of the volunteers are employed by local businesses or school systems. Abell said that in addition to being concerned for the welfare of contestants and attendees, if an outbreak were to occur within the volunteer base it could have a significant impact on the community and community businesses.
The rodeo is estimated to add approximately $15,000 annually to the Lions Club funding that is in turn used to help and support local organizations.
Fortunately the Lions Club has been saving for a rainy day, Abell said, and the loss of this year's income should not affect the organization's ability to support their normal programs and causes. The Lions Club supports numerous programs including purchasing eyeglasses for those in need and helping with the local back-to-school programs as well as the school Backpack Program.
The decision to cancel needed to be made now before the club incurred any debt related to scheduling and promoting of the event, Abell said.
The Miss Rodeo Sallisaw Queen contestant, which is already underway, will not be cancelled due to the ability to social distance during this event.
"We could possibly host some type of fundraising event in the future depending on the numbers," Abell said. "But it won't be a full rodeo."
This would have been the 77th annual rodeo for Sallisaw. The popular event was originally under the direction of the Sallisaw Round Up Club but the leadership torch was passed to the Lions Club in the 1980's.
Abell said that as far as he knows the rodeo has only been cancelled one other time. He believes it was sometime in the 1940's during World War II.
"It's a nerve wracking time and we certainly didn't want to cancel," added Abell. "But moving forward with the event could have really put our community in a bind."
KXMX News Staff
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