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80th Sisters Rodeo canceled due to coronavirus

Only the second time the rodeo has been canceled in 80-year history

(Update: adding comments from rodeo official, Sisters mayor)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- It's called "The Biggest Little Show in the World," but the 80th annual Sisters Rodeo has just been canceled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was a unanimous vote," Rodger Dwight, the rodeo’s marketing director, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday.

The Sisters Rodeo has been held in the second week of June almost every year since its birth in 1940. The only other time the rodeo has been canceled in its 80-year history was at the beginning of World War II.

"We held off as long as we could, but it was the right choice," Dwight said.

Dwight said the rodeo welcomes 35,000 people every year, making it the biggest rodeo on the West Coast during the weekend it's held.

Sisters Mayor Chuck Ryan said all those tourists means the rodeo typically supports about 15-20% of the city's economy for the summer season. As for how will this impact businesses moving forward, Ryan said he does not have the answers right now.

"I've heard some dire predictions that a lot of our business won't survive this,” Ryan said. “I don't know. As you know, it's developing as we go, and the longer it goes, the harder it's going to be for some of these businesses to recover."

The 2020 Sisters Rodeo Queen is Mary Olney, a 2019 Madras High School graduate who grew up on the Warm Springs reservation. The plan is for Olney to be the Rodeo Queen again in 2021.

Here's their announcement, from their website.

"April 8, 2020

To our Valued Patrons,

"We’ve survived rain, snow and forest fires in the past, but this Coronavirus has pulled out all its guns on us.  The Sisters Rodeo Board of Directors made a unanimous decision on Tuesday evening to cancel the rodeo for this year.  Notification to our contractors, vendors, PRCA, CRC, patrons and so many more will occur over the next two days.  

"The Directors have worked for the past few weeks to look at the situation from all angles, including getting a pulse from community businesses, fellow rodeo associations, contractors and sponsors.  With heavy hearts, the decision had to be made. We will survive this and will come back ready next year to put on the “Biggest Little Show in the World.” We are a successful, strong association and we value your patronage and hope to see you back with us next year.  

"General Admission ticket reimbursement will begin on Monday, April 13th.  Please be patient as we work through our ticket system.  Credit card purchases will be credited back to you credit card accounts.  We will not be holding tickets over to next year's performance.

"Please stay safe and take care of each other.  We will miss all of you, but look forward to a fun-filled Sisters Rodeo the second week of June 2021.

"President Curt Kallberg and Board of Directors"

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