On the Beat column artwork

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to put on the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo each summer. Although the celebration in 2020 was canceled except for a night of fireworks, the organization’s volunteers still put in the hours over several weeks and months not knowing if the final decision would be a green or red light.

The pandemic has taken a toll on this community at many levels. The cancellation of our various celebrations and events represents just one component of the full picture. But you can’t deny that the loss of these opportunities to gather as a community had an impact. We couldn’t plan a fun family outing, visit face-to-face with our neighbors or even sit on our lawn chairs while enjoying a classic, small-town parade.

In a story published at PhilomathNews.com last week, I reported on the Frolic & Rodeo board’s efforts to move forward with their hard work in preparation for a 2021 celebration. Chris Workman, who has been the primary voice for the Frolic through his role as publicity chair and media contact, responded to my questions about how he believes the loss of last year’s event impacted the community.

“I think you realize how much you enjoy doing those types of events, running into neighbors, co-workers, old friends and old high school classmates,” Workman said. “When you don’t have that, you realize how much you missed it. I think this year, we will see — I’m hoping — that we’ll see a return to that.”

Workman believes events like the Frolic & Rodeo contribute to life as we know it in our small town.

“They do make a big difference and it becomes a quality-of-life kind of issue,” he said. “When those events go away, it does have an effect on families and the community as a whole.”

As reported last week, the Frolic & Rodeo’s board has entered into contracts with various principle players — an announcer, stock contractor, rodeo clown and others — and is also moving forward with those various fun on-the-side events.

Among those would be an expanded, multi-day version of the cornhole tournament, which was introduced for the first time in 2019. The home run derby proved to be a popular event as well, mostly among the kids, but will also be back. A 5-kilometer run is also in the works.

Besides the volunteers who contribute time and hard work, and the community members who open their wallets to help support the rodeo and other events, another group that plays into the overall success are the sponsors. They are the local businesses that want to be a part of the celebration while enjoying exposure through advertising opportunities.

“We’re very aware of the struggles that a lot of our sponsors have been through this last year plus,” Workman said. “We’ve started some outreach to them about sponsorships; we’re going to try to work with our sponsors the best that we can. I don’t think we’ll be turning anybody away this year but we are just aware and sensitive to the fact that people don’t have a lot of disposable income right now.”

One of the classic rules of business is that you need to get your name out there — and keep it out there — and sponsorships at major community events is one of the strategies that not only illustrates support but can ultimately add to the bottom line.

“We’ve never gone with the premise that we ever felt like people owed us any money or were just giving us a handout,” Workman said. “We’ve always tried to give them good value, give them good exposure, get their name up on the arena, get them on our website, put them on our Facebook page and all that.”

Philomath does have some new businesses in town that might not have been able to get their name out there much. Others have had to back off a bit with that part of their budget despite the importance of remaining in the forefront of the mind of a consumer.

Said Workman, “We’ll be looking at pricing and what the cost is and trying to be flexible there where we can be flexible … help people get their name out there. We’re pretty affordable.”

So, we’ll see how things turn out in the coming weeks. The pandemic has put a dent in many pocketbooks of community members and forced revisions in the budgets of businesses, so it remains to be seen how that part of the equation works out.

But we should all feel happy knowing that you can expect the Frolic & Rodeo as an organization to be ready to put on another great event in July … if pandemic conditions allow.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher and editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at news@philomathnews.com.)

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