Medina & Hamel’s Largest Fundraiser: Recovering from a Global Pandemic
Every year hundreds of volunteers are responsible for all things Rodeo from set up to parking, concessions, tear down and everything in between. Throw a moving pandemic in with potential state-mandated changes for the number of people allowed into an event such as this makes planning for all the workers, competitors, performers and spectators even more daunting. In March 2021 LocalTies sat down with Rowdy Dorweiler, Hamel Rodeo Treasurer and Shorty Dorweiler, Hamel Rodeo Arena Director to talk about the status of the Hamel Rodeo for this upcoming July. What became immediately apparent was how enormous and taxing planning an event as large as the Hamel Rodeo is with so many unknown variables at play.
March 10, 2021
LocalTies: How is planning going for the Hamel Rodeo?
Rowdy: There was a lot of discussion over the fall and winter about what it might look like for the Hamel Rodeo in 2021. It was at the January Hamel Rodeo Committee meeting where we pretty much laid out a plan based on a lot of different scenarios with guidance at the state level. It was then we felt we could make the event viable and move forward with it this upcoming year – we didn’t want to take two years off because trying to come back with an event like that after missing two years would be impossible.
Shorty: It’s tough enough after missing one. Most events don’t survive if they miss a year.
Rowdy: So back over the winter we created a lot of different scenarios of what it might look like and what we could do. I don’t know how many different iterations of the event you played out (glancing over at Shorty) but my bet is it was probably over a hundred. In January we went to the committee and started by saying from a financial standpoint, we’re not bankrupting the organization. We laid out ways we could make this work at 25% capacity, at 50% capacity, all the way up to 100.
The one thing we were adamant about was that we were absolutely not to compromise the quality of the event itself. If someone buys a ticket, whether we sell 200 or 2000, they’re going to see that same high quality level Rodeo that they saw in 2019 and 2018. We will not cut any corners. From the time a fan sits down and the rodeo starts, what they see in the arena will not be compromised whatsoever.
LocalTies: Has anything changed?
Rowdy: The amount of prize money for the contestants did not change. The award winning, high caliber livestock is not going to be affected. The production aspect of the Rodeo will be as good if not better than in years past.
LocalTies: In other words, the quality is going to be awesome. Exactly the same if not better than every year. But this year it will be a limited event – we don’t know how many tickets will be available so everyone needs to buy their tickets early to be guaranteed a seat.
Rowdy: As far as COVID is concerned, we’re committed to following the guidelines, we’re not going to buck the system. We’ll do all we can to keep people safe.
Shorty: We’ll be adjusting ticket sales accordingly, because that may be a moving target. There’s no question the number of tickets will be limited, we just don’t know how limited. We hope the sponsors and spectators continue to support the Rodeo because it has generated over $2 million to the community service organizations and that money has been put to good use right in this community.
LocalTies: Last year did you receive any donations without the Rodeo?
Shorty: The Rodeo did sell t-shirts last year, and Farmers State Bank of Hamel donated $12,000 in matching funds.
LocalTies: How much revenue was raised through the Rodeo in the year prior for the organizations?
Rowdy: It was over $100,000.
LocalTies: So in 2019 over $100,000 was generated through the Hamel Rodeo that went straight back into the community. Last year, due to the pandemic, only $12,000 went out. That means this year we really need people’s support.
Rowdy: People have sent in checks in the past who say they just want to make a donation, or typically there are those who go to the Rodeo every year but for some reason won’t be in town during that weekend but still want to make that donation.
LocalTies: Where should monetary donations be sent?
Rowdy: Checks can be mailed to: The Hamel Rodeo, PO Box 141, Hamel, MN 55340
LocalTies: Let’s talk about the fun stuff. Tell us about the performing act.
Shorty: This year we’ll be seeing the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls specialty act out of California.
Rowdy: It’s a ranch that runs camps and all kinds of programs way beyond rodeo. If you go to their website, there’s a lot of information about them. www.rrcowboygirls.com
LocalTies: And you’ve had them booked out for year, right?
Shorty: Actually, over two years. At Hamel Rodeo, you see professional acts that you can’t see at other rodeos in this area. The caliber of performers we book like John Payne, the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, the Keisners, you just won’t see them anywhere else near here.
Rowdy: It’s not easy to book the acts that are very popular, they have a lot of rodeos to choose from across the country.
We will have our shopping area, Vendor Alley too. They are excited to be back in action as well.
LocalTies: Will the ticket prices be higher this year?
Rowdy: The ticketing will look different this year on a lot of levels. We don’t know exactly what the capacity limits will be at that time. It will have to be general admission only, all tickets are the same price and where you sit will be determined by first come first serve. You buy the ticket and it gets you into the venue, then based on whatever the guidelines are on July 8 to July 11 determines how many we can seat in every area.
Shorty: In any event, all tickets will be sold online.
Rowdy: People used to be able to buy tickets the day of the event at the gate, but as of today, if you sell tickets to an event, they have to be sold online. This may change based on state and local guidance but I encourage people to go online and buy tickets now. We anticipate sold out crowds regardless of how the tickets are being sold.
Shorty: What really made a difference was the backup at the gate due to lines. I never held up a performance for the backup at the gate. We found it’s much more efficient when the tickets are already sold in advance, people don’t need to walk up to buy a ticket and experience a backup.
Rowdy: If you have a ticketing platform that is used to handling events of your caliber, it makes a huge difference. We use one of the best that specializes in fairs, rodeos and large events. They understand there’s a big rush at the gate when it opens and they’re used to accommodating a big fluctuation of people in a short window of time. That’s how they build their platform, they work with some of the biggest rodeos in the country.
At the time of this printing (May 2021) your favorite parts of the Hamel Rodeo will be in place, albeit in limited quantities.
Save the date! Thursday, July 8 through Sunday, July 11
Details on page __ of this issue – buy tickets at https://www.hamelrodeo.org/.
See you at the Hamel Rodeo!!