ALISON Thomas hopes to defy the decline in the traditional Aussie rodeo when she opens the gates for the first Oakbank Rodeo and Family Fun Day.
She heads a committee already flat-out organising the rodeo for Saturday, November 17, at the picturesque and iconic Oakbank Racecourse in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.
“A lot of rodeos in South Australia are not continuing,” Alison said.
“I have a four-year-old son and I think it would be a real shame if he never got to experience or understand how much fun rodeos can be.”
A long-time horserider and rodeo fan, Alison came up with the idea to hold a rodeo, and a committee was formed in January.
The locals hope to raise $50,000 for their community and sporting groups.
As part of their fundraising efforts they also plan to cover costs before the rodeo is held – an expense of $30,000 – so that all profits raised on the day of the rodeo can go directly to charity.
“We hope the rodeo sparks some interest and really broadens the spectrum,” she said.
“With Oakbank being so close to the city we hope a lot of people will come up and see us.”
Alison hopes the superb location – home of the hugely popular Easter picnic racing carnival – will also help boost numbers.
“It’s an iconic venue but it is also really user-friendly and has a huge capacity, so we won’t have to shut the gate once we reach a certain number,” she said.
“We want everyone to come and experience this event, especially because Oakbank is such a beautiful setting.”
Alison says the committee plans to work with other groups to enable disadvantaged children to attend the family fun day.
“This is a community-based event and we want to take the broadness of the community into account with this,” she said.
The committee have also set up a page on social media site Facebook called Oakbank Rodeo and Family Fun Day.
Already, more than 200 people have ‘liked’ the page.
A sub-rodeo committee made up of technical advisers including Glen Kent, Sue and David Rowden, and Mark Heuritsch, “half a dozen” volunteers and a stock contractor are also involved.
Events will include rough stock (bucking bulls and bucking horses), timed events such as breakaway roping, and a ute muster.
She says the crowd will see some very talented SA riders including Australian champion bareback bronc rider Glen Kent, who is also on the technical committee.
The family fun day – from mid-morning before the rodeo starts at night – will have trick horsemen and women such as the Adelaide Hills’ Brenton Matthews showing their skills, plus campdrafting and polo demonstrations, whipcracking, pony rides, carnival rides and tug-o-war competitions.
Local sporting clubs are set to compete against each other, and the South Australian Barrel Horse Association may run classes.
Prizemoney will be awarded for all events, and buckles will go to winners of the all-round cowboy and cowgirl of the night.
Alison says the few rodeos left in SA include Marrabel, Murray Bridge, Kapunda, Wilmington, Carrieton, Mount Gambier, Spalding and Clare.
“All of those are pretty far away from where many of us live,” she said.
“I would hate to think that kids today would not get the chance to learn about their Australian heritage and be able to attend events such as these”.
“The horsemanship shown at rodeos is incredible.
Entry to the rodeo is expected to cost $20 an adult or $50 a family (for two parents and unlimited children).