Now that he has been able to take a deep breath and put four days of Fort Dalles Days “Rough and Wild” Rodeo action into perspective, Rodeo Association Board Member and organizer, Jake Grossmiller is ready to start planning ahead to bigger and better things in 2014.
“I am ready. It doesn’t take long to decompress because with a show like this, with the people working the events and our committee, everybody does their job and it makes the rodeo go a lot easier,” Grossmiller said. “When they step up to the plate and cover their job, you don’t have the stress and the strain. Sure, there was a little here and there, I don’t doubt that a bit, but still it makes it come out real well.”
Although there were some bumps in the road on Friday with a bull escaping Milt Tumilson Arena, a blackout, two medical emergencies, a scoreboard malfunction and a wardrobe malfunction, Grossmiller said nothing is taken away from the performances from the more than 400 rodeo contestants.
He credits the crew, announcer, Chad Nicholson, the clown, Frankie Smith, the grounds crews and pickup men for making the rodeo run as smoothly as possible.
“As far as the show is concerned, we had a great rodeo,” Grossmiller said. “Friday night, was a little taxing to say the least. I think it was a full moon and we had our share of full-moon incidences. The professionalism of our crew pulled us through. My hats off to them.”
There were solid times and scores put up and he noticed more local performers from Sherman, Dufur, Hood River, The Dalles and Goldendale signing in for events.
One of those locals, Ronnie Webber, a 2008 The Dalles Wahtonka High School graduate, won the bull riding competition, as just two of 30 names entered had actual scores.
Aside from the local mix of cowboys and cowgirls, Grossmiller was proud to say that the 48th annual Fort Dalles Rodeo attracted even larger numbers from Arizona, California, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho.
He said that word-of-mouth is spreading fast, so there are interested participants, who want to hit multiple rodeos of prestige within the surrounding areas.
“The quality of the contestants was great,” Grossmiller said. “I am always impressed with what comes out, no matter when or where.”
As far as changes or improvements, Grossmiller said there might be some tweaks, but no wholesale moves.
He added that as long as the same crew stays involved and continues to bring professionalism to the table, the event would fare well.
Since there is competition with other rodeos, Grossmiller said there may be some dates shuffling, because there were three different shows going on around the state, as well as a $20,000 bull riding and saddle bronc competition in Baker City.
“The only way around that is to either put up more money in those events to attract more contestants or move our dates,” Grossmiller said. “Those are a couple things we need to look at. We are the No. 1 rodeo in the association right now as far as prize money. When you have $20,000 in three events, it is pretty hard to compete.”
With the offseason hitting its stride, Grossmiller is aiming high to make Fort Dalles Days and its week of events a yearly success.
It has been a stirring event for the past 48 years, so the powers that be must be doing something right.
“I am pleased with the way things went and I know we will only get better from here,” Grossmiller said. “With the quality of individuals we have here, I think it will stay that way.”