The 2022 Cloverdale Rodeo has officially been cancelled.
Gerry Spielmacher, Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association president, told the Cloverdale Reporter it was hard to finally make the decision to cancel it.
“The reason for cancelling it is that the Stetson Bowl is unsafe to have people in there right now. I’m not saying it would fall down or anything, just that we can’t take any chances.”
This is the third year in a row the Association will not hold a rodeo on May long weekend, after cancellations in both 2020 and 2021 because of COVID.
Spielmacher said the Country Fair could be cancelled too because of the uncertainty of having to deal with Omicron.
“We’re planning on doing something, but there are a lot of issues that we have to deal with,” he said. “Take for example the Longhorn Saloon. If we’re only allowed to have 50 per cent (capacity), or if we aren’t allowed to serve food, or maybe we aren’t allowed to have dancing, then it changes the event. It takes away a lot.”
He said if the Country Fair portion of Rodeo Weekend is cancelled, the board will make a decision on that in the coming weeks. But he added, “We still think we can make (a Country Fair) work.”
Spielmacher first made the official announcement the 2022 Cloverdale Rodeo was cancelled via a newsletter to members late Wednesday night (Jan. 19).
“After an inspection of the Stetson Bowl grandstands, we have discovered that they are not safe for us to use at this time,” Spielmacher said in the newsletter. “The City of Surrey has been working hard on making sure that they get repaired, but there is no guarantee that they can be completed for the May long weekend and it has made it difficult to move on with the rodeo since we haven’t any other area on the fairgrounds to put the rodeo in.”
In the letter, Spielmacher said the Rodeo Association board has instead been putting their efforts into hosting a Country Fair-only event and adding some “additional attractions” for the May long weekend.
“The other main concern the board has been dealing with is Omicron pandemic issues and where will we be at the time of the event and what kind of attendance issues and will people feel safe at attending the event,” he said.
“A lot of unknowns with no right answers when the planning is taking place.”
Spielmacher also reminded members in the letter that the City of Surrey has taken over the management role for the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
Just had a look at Stetson Bowl grandstands at @CloverdaleRodeo. @CityofSurrey crew working on fixing the aging structure, which has sagged. @CloverdaleNews @SurreyNowLeader https://t.co/5sgK8FPEL6 pic.twitter.com/0UwKfpxD11— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) January 20, 2022
He added the board will now focus on the “rodeo and country fair and to grow it each year and make it become the biggest and most cherished event in Surrey.”
Country Fair co-chair Rick Hugh said it was a difficult decision to cancel the rodeo again.
“Many of us on the board have grown up with the rodeo being an all-important event for us and our families,” Hugh said via email. “While COVID restrictions and timelines are certainly challenges, the deciding factor was the physical integrity of the Stetson Bowl grandstands.”
He added the board was working with the city to address the structural issues of the Stetson Bowl so the grandstand was ready for a 2023 rodeo on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
“We thought about bringing in portable grandstands, but once the city engineers and staff get immersed in the repair job, much of the arena area will be a work zone.”
Spielmacher closed out his newsletter by also mentioning past board members.
“I want to thank the previous directors who had given so much to our association over the last number of years: Shannon Claypool, John Kageorge, Sierra Pilcher, Rich Kitos and Dale Saip.”