Despite likely losses, rodeo looks to 2019

Gilroy Rodeo organizer remains optimistic

Gilroy Rodeo Director Erik Martin. Photo By Bryce Stoepfel

It’s been more than a week since the renewed Gilroy Rodeo weekend ended, and rodeo organizer Erik Martin said this week he is examining what went right, what went wrong and what he and his volunteers can do better next year.

Planning for next year may be just around the corner, but this year’s bills are coming due.

“I haven’t shaken out all the numbers yet, but my gut feeling is that we won’t be in the black,” Martin said. “We’ll lose maybe $20,000, which is not terrible, but it could have been better. I think we did really well in our first year.”

First years can be rough, but the rodeo in the arena ran smoothly. The events were fast-paced and varied, and with little lag time between activities, the rodeo ran about three hours each day.

“The business part never ends,” said Martin. “We were like, wow, you have a successful event where everybody was happy and we had no issues, and we get all kinds of scrutiny and we get hammered by a bill from the sheriff’s.”

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department handled parking and security at the rodeo. While there were no arrests or other noteworthy incidents regarding parking, traffic, or crowd control, the bill came to approximately $14,000.

“They told me that I needed to pay for six cops minimum and they sent eight,” Martin, who said he is negotiating with the sheriff’s department.

Wrangling with Santa Clara County posed another challenge. Martin could not begin ticket sales before he secured all the necessary permits from the county, which gave him four weeks to sell tickets. Since the rodeo made most of its ticket sales at the gate, Martin is looking forward to having a whole year to sell tickets for its second go-’round..

“The event was a success, and if we could advertise all year, we could sell out.”

Given the limitations, ticket sales were still robust. Martin said that the rodeo sold approximately 4,400 tickets over the weekend, and he thought that along with sponsor tickets and free tickets for kids 12 and younger, the rodeo drew more than 8,000 attendees over the weekend.

“The stands filled up pretty quick, so it’s pretty hard to argue over that, especially since we only had four weeks to advertise,” Martin said.

There could have been more, if not for a ticket ordering snafus with online ticket retailer Etix. Buyers hoping to get tickets online on Saturday got a message saying the event was sold out.

“I got ten calls that day with people asking me if the rodeo was sold out,” Martin said. “We fixed it in the end, but by that time it was Sunday.”

The rodeo was not without an accident. Austin Philips sustained small skull and eye fractures on Sunday and spent the night in intensive care.  According to Martin, no animals were injured. Paramedics, both for the riders and the animal athletes, were on hand in case of injuries.

Beer sales, $5, got off to a rocky start. But after getting through some early issues, they sold 48 kegs of beer over the weekend.

“We had some folks who didn’t know how to install a tap, and we needed bolt cutters to get one of the beer trailers open,” Martin said. “We had no trouble. There were worries because of the $5 price, but we had no rowdies or arrests.”

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