PRESTON — That Famous Preston Night Rodeo was not able to hold their 86th annual event this past summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they are making plans for next year.
On a recent KVNU For the People program, committee chairwoman Kris Beckstead said not only are they making plans for the rodeo in 2021 but are also busy expanding the grounds. They are also fundraising for this.
”We’ve been planning, thinking in the back of our minds what we needed to do to make our arena more comfortable, roomier, be able to seat more people, we have sell-out crowds, we wanted to be able to make it safer. We also have had the problem of handicap accessibility, that arena has been in for so many, many years that people who have difficulty getting into the seats or they’re in a wheelchair, it’s just been almost impossible to get in and enjoy the rodeo.”
So, she said they’ve changed all of that. Beckstead said the decision to cancel this year’s rodeo was very difficult for them to make.
“And we held in there until 2 1/2 weeks before the rodeo to try and make our event happen. When the health department and the powers that be made it impossible for us to really do the rodeo in the way we wanted to be able to do it, it broke our hearts. So we just thought, well we’re going to focus on this arena project, and instead of talking about it and just dreaming about it, we’re going to make it a reality, so that’s exactly what we’re trying to do right now.”
Beckstead said the renovations which have already started are not a small task. She said the day that they started ‘tearing it out’ they knew they were on a path of no return.
“What we’re trying to do is, because of the amount of money that we need to raise, we’re doing 60 percent of the project, we have the whole project planned to replace all of the bleachers and make (it) roomier, more leg room….so we’re replacing the whole east side and much of the south end. Where the calf roping happens, we’ve got a section and a half beyond that to the west out.
“We found some great people to help us and we’ve dismantled everything, we’ve just got a little bit more of the steel to remove and then, believe it or not, we’re going to be pouring cement and getting ready for the structure in December.”
She said they’ll have heaters and blankets and get the cement all poured. Then the actual structure is coming from the midwest and it’s supposed to arrive the first part of January and they’ll just put it up in the winter. She said they’re increasing the seating from 5,200 to about approximately 6,300 seats.
“It’s going to be a great new thing for our community.”
Beckstead said they are not attached to the tax paying dollar like so many fairs and rodeos are.
Everything their rodeo does is generated purely from sponsorships and the ticket sales and the generosity of people. She said because of the passion that many have for the rodeo, they’ve found some really generous people and a bank willing to loan them some money.
She said people can donate to the project on Venmo at Preston Rodeo, they have an account where people can donate, they can send it directly to the rodeo. Those interested can go to www.PrestonRodeo.com.
Beckstead said she will continue posting pictures of the progress of the renovation on Facebook.