The Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo could ride out of town for good unless the event starts roping in more fans, organizers say.
"We don't want to put a negative spin on anything, but we could definitely lose this rodeo," Brian Howell, chairman of the event, told the Idaho State Journal. "If we can't make money at it, this event could leave town. That could take $5 million out of the local economy and one of the best rodeos in the country out of our own backyard."
Featuring the year-end and finals champions from 12 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuits around the United States, the rodeo runs Wednesday through Saturday at Holt Arena at Idaho State
The total purse is nearly $500,000 and has attracted the best competitors the rodeo has ever had, Howell said.
In the past few years the rodeo has lost money, and bigger cities such as Dallas and Las Vegas are eyeing the event, officials said.
"We're barely hanging on," said former rodeo chairman Dee Greene. "The last few years, we've lost more money than we're really comfortable losing. We'd hate to lose (the rodeo), but money is going to talk. If we can't pay our bills, we have to get out of the game. It's as simple as that."
Howell said the rodeo needs to attract about 30,000 spectators over five performances this week, about 3,000 more than attended last year.
"With the economy it's going to be dang tough," he said.
Dodge rodeo is a nonprofit organization that Greene said gives back to the community. One night of the event is called "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" and raises money to fight breast cancer.
Greene said the rodeo has weathered tough financial times before, but this year seems more challenging.
"Hopefully we can hold our nose above water, but I'm not so sure," he said. "The PRCA would have no qualms at all with moving it to a larger spot."