Status of Labor Day Rodeo up in air
For only the second time in its 48-year history, the Methow Valley Rodeo is canceling one of its two annual events.
Dennis Gardner, president of the sponsoring Methow Valley Horsemen (MVN) board of directors, said this week that the Memorial Day Rodeo scheduled for May 23 and 24 has been canceled, citing concerns about COVID-19-related conditions that may still be in place affecting public gatherings.
“We pretty much saw it coming,” Gardner said of the MVN board’s discussion. Earlier, it was announced that the annual Winthrop ’49er Days celebration and the Washington Outfitters & Guides Association’s ride to Rendezvous — set for early in May — were at least postponed, as was the scheduled April 11 opening of the Methow Valley Farmers Market. This week, organizers of the annual Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival announced that the July event has been canceled (see story, page A1).
Gardner said the status of the annual Labor Day Rodeo, scheduled for Sept. 5 and 6, is uncertain right now. “We’ll put it on if we can,” he said, adding that limits on crowd sizes will affect that decision.
In 2015, the Labor Day Rodeo was called off because of poor air quality conditions in the valley resulting from wildland fires. The 2015 decision to cancel the Labor Day Rodeo came shortly after three firefighters died when a sudden wind shift in the newly ignited Twisp River Fire overran the trapped crew. During the days that followed, the towns of Twisp and Winthrop were under evacuation advisories and smoke from wildfires remained at levels considered unhealthy for outdoor activity.
The Methow Valley Rodeo was launched in 1971 by Bill Flagg, Vernon Bame, Don Dagnon, Tom Graves, Al Gardner, and Sandy Haase. The first rodeo arena was on the Sunny M Ranch, where it was staged for 10 years. The rodeo later moved to the Brengman Road site at Moccasin Lake Ranch.
For information, visit http://www.methowvalleyrodeo.com.