ARCADIA — The 8th Annual Arcadia Fall Rodeo returns to Mosaic Arena in Arcadia this weekend, and rodeo officials say this will be the biggest one yet.
“We’re looking to have our largest small rodeo in history as far as attendance,” said Justin Fussell, executive director of the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo.
The Arcadia All-Florida Rodeo organization manages the fall rodeo and the annual Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, held in March.
The March rodeo is a four-day event that dates back to 1928 and brings thousands of people to DeSoto.
Fussell told The Daily Sun Thursday that their organization had already sold 4,592 tickets with more expected to sell ahead of the event, as well as at the door.
“I’m going to assume we sell around 5,500 tickets,” he said. “Our fall rodeo is much smaller than our March rodeo but we’re looking to have a real good show this weekend.”
The fall rodeo runs Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Gates open at 11 a.m. both days. The event will be held at the Mosaic Arena at 2450 Roan St. in Arcadia.
With the Fall Rodeo, along with the “Granddaddy” Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo and other smaller events, the rodeo organization has brought in millions of dollars to DeSoto County in economic impact.
“In 2019, our last normal year, per say (without the pandemic), we found with 10 days of working events we had a $2.1 million economic impact on DeSoto,” Fussell said.
Economic impact is the influence an event, government action, or business activity has on the local economy.
During the pandemic, the Rodeo Association did hold both the Fall and March rodeos, but due to restricted crowd numbers neither event lived up to past results.
In 2020, the organization sold only 2,839 for the fall rodeo compared to 2019 ticket sales of 4,524.
On top of managing lower ticket sales during the pandemic, Fussell said their organization could not get any federal financial assistance like other nonprofits.
“We went nearly 18 months with zero financial assistance, so to come back strong and have people attend (our events) is so much for us,” he said.
This year’s Fall Rodeo will feature traditional rodeo events like mutton bustin’, bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
“We’re not changing the show a whole lot (this year),” Fussell said. “We always try to get the best stocks and riders we can.”
For this year, the rodeo organization is also working with the nonprofit Vet Tix, which provides tickets to events for service members and veterans.
They are also working with Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
“That’s always been our mission is to provide family friendly entertainment and give back to local organizations and be an economic generator for DeSoto,” Fussell said. “It’s nice, coming out of the pandemic, to know that we are still able to do these things and put on events, generate revenue and give back to the community.”