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Prescott's 'world's oldest rodeo' won't be bucked out of the saddle by COVID-19

Prescott's 'world's oldest rodeo' won't be bucked out of the saddle by COVID-19

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The “world’s oldest rodeo” can take place as scheduled this summer in Prescott despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

“The cowboys and the bulls can get ready,” Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday.

But he’s not prepared to say just yet whether there will be anyone allowed into the stands to watch the competitors. “There will be more to follow on that,” Ducey said.

The 133rd annual performance starts June 29.

J.C. Trujillo, the general manager of Prescott Frontier Days, said he’s planning for an audience, albeit one much smaller than normal.

But even if there’s no one permitted to watch it live, he said the rodeo will go on.

“For 132 years here in Prescott ... we’ve been at the same rodeo grounds, we’ve had a rodeo. So if we have to have a rodeo without spectators ... we’ve got to have a rodeo to keep our status as the world’s oldest rodeo,” Trujillo said.

He said the event has become one of the Top 30 rodeos in the country as measured by dollars.

And many of those dollars — Trujillo said between $300,000 and $400,000 — come from people attending the eight events over seven days.

On Thursday, officials in Cheyenne, Wyoming, announced that Frontier Days there is canceled due to the pandemic.

The Associated Press said this is the first time that event, billed as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, has been called off in its 124-year history.

Ducey’s go-ahead means the Prescott event won’t face the same fate.

But Trujillo said even if the governor allows spectators, it won’t be the same as in prior years.

Rather than being assigned specific seats, for example, ticket holders will be entitled to sit in designated sections. “We’re only going to sell about 60% of that section,” in order to meet any social distancing requirements, Trujillo said.

And for those who would rather watch it from home, he said The Cowboy Channel will televise all eight performances.

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