POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Despite coronavirus concerns from the community, the Idaho High School Rodeo Association Championships will be hosted at the Bannock County Event Center.
County commissioners, the Southeast Idaho Public Health department and rodeo association members decided on Friday to hold the event.
They postponed the event to June 13 through June 20 so it begins on the first day of stage four of Idaho's plan to reopen, which permits large gatherings.
“There’s still a possibility the state could say ‘We’re not doing it,’” said Commissioner Ernie Moser.
Depending on conditions when the event gets closer, the county could make the decision to cancel or postpone.
“It could come to a day or two ahead of the event, and if we are not in compliance and we can’t have it, then we’re going to have to do what the governor has asked us to do,” Moser said.
The rodeo association’s insurance covers the event if it does get canceled because of the coronavirus. Moser said that was a big factor on whether to continue with the event.
The event attracts competitors from all across the state. Typically, a couple hundred athletes attend with sometimes double the horses, not including coaches or family members. The large scale event has some community members worried about an outbreak.
And while other events planned for the event center, like the Hairball concert, were canceled, Moser said the rodeo is a different situation.
In recent weeks, performers canceled events due to big venues temporarily shutting their doors, which cuts the little guys out of tour routes. The event center is often a stop along the way for touring events.
“Other places around us are closing down and they’re not having their concerts. So, it just didn’t fit,” Moser said.
Governor Brad Little’s office released updated guidelines on Wednesday regarding large gatherings. The county is putting the responsibility on the rodeo association to ensure those guidelines are met.
“We’re requiring, or asking, the rodeo committee to ensure that that happens. They’re coming in and using our facility, so this is their event,” Moser said.
Plans must be approved by public health officials. Some changes may include requiring guests, competitors and staff to wear face masks, social distancing and cleaning measures, and sanitizing stations.
“We want to open up the county. We want to hold events as much as possible. But we’re going to do it the right way,” Moser said.