Bronco event at the Cootamundra Rodeo on the October long weekend in 2019.

When the Cootamundra Rodeo was last held in pre-Covid days in 2019, the district was in drought and a water truck was used to damp down the arena during lunch.

Now, after three years in the wilderness, the ground looks beautifully green and organisers are looking forward to a great comeback on Saturday, November 12, and hoping of course that it doesn’t rain.

There’ll be thrills and spills aplenty after the first horse is bucked out at 10am.

Generous sponsorship from Cootamundra businesses has ensured a strong purse for the 2022 Cootamundra Rodeo. Prize money totalling $8,000 is being offered for a mainly “roughstock” program—that is, a program composed mostly of events with bucking bulls and horses, with the somewhat gentler arts like calf roping not due to return until next year.

Cootamundra Rodeo Association president Garry Luck says a small but dedicated band of volunteers has put in a lot of work to get the ground ready.

“We’ve done a lot since three years ago and its only going to get bigger next year,” Garry said.

“We’ve put in five event yards, for team roping, bulldogging, ladies steer run and breakaway roping and so on, although they won’t come into their own until next year.

“And lately we’ve done a heap of tidying up, slashing and poisoning to keep the grass under control.”

This year the ground outside the fence was so wet that “a couple of idiots” put ruts in the grass doing wheelies around the area last week.

“It was bloody terrible to go and do that after all the work we’ve put in,” Garry said.

Events and prize money this year will be: bull ride $2000, novice bull ride $1000; open bronc ride $1500, open bareback 1250; novice bareback 750, open barrel $600, novice barrel $300, steer ride 8-11 $100; 11-14 $150; 14-18 $250; junior barrels 8-11 $100; 11-14 $150; 14-18 $250. Garry said the number of entrants would make for a long event, from 10am to 6-7pm with a one hour break for lunch.

“Next year we’re expecting to get lights and will be even bigger, probably not finishing until after 8pm,” he said.

The last Cootamundra Rodeo, on the October long weekend in 2019, had an attendance of 700, following an earlier trial run in March 2019 which had 370.

Twenty years or so back there was a very strong rodeo following in Cootamundra but this fell away after the town lost the titles in 2004 and for many years the venue was limited to regional gymkhana events for younger riders.

After a huge effort by the Association to rebuild the arena and replace the old wooden guards with steel railing, the event made a strong comeback in 2019 only to be stymied for three years by the Chinese flu.

Tom Gosling