SHOW LOW – The rodeo stands and livestock chutes will be empty this year.

Vacation Village Arena

The White Mountain Vacation Village Arena, (Culvers Village Arena), has been the home of the Deuces Wild Rodeo for 15 years.

The Deuces Wild Rodeo at Culver’s Village Arena in Show Low, originally scheduled for the 4th of July, has been officially cancelled for 2020. This summer will be without cowboys, cowgirls and all that goes along with the small-town rodeo.

Rodeo stands

Some members of the rodeo committee will move forward in the search to find another venue for the Deuces Wild Rodeo. The long-running event hosts around 300 contestants and up to 3,000 spectators every year in the Village Arena in Show Low.

Sanctioned by the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association (GCPRA), the Deuces Wild Rodeo brings in professional rodeo competitors from across Arizona, as well as California, Colorado, New Mexico and even Nevada.

Over 300 contestants participate each year, drawing anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 spectators to the grounds in a single day.

“The stands are always packed and usually become standing room only,” said Deuces Wild Rodeo Committee board president Sandy Morgan.

The 12-person Deuces Wild Rodeo Committee had voted to move the rodeo forward to September until concerns about large crowds and the possibility of spreading coronavirus forced complete cancelation.

“We had tentatively postponed the rodeo until Labor Day weekend,” said Morgan. “After much discussion, studying the state COVID-19 guidelines and weighing the pros and cons against the threat to public health, we decided that the event should be canceled for this year.”

The roughly 16-acre property was purchased by Steve Chlupsa early this year. He is the owner and operator of the Payson and Show Low Culver’s restaurants.

“We’re sad that the rodeo isn’t able to go on because the Show Low Culver’s was a sponsor,” said Chlupsa. “There was also going to be a roping event the week prior to to rodeo which we also planned to support.”

Chlupsa tried to allow the use of the arena this year but the global health emergency is much more important to organizers.

“Steve Chlupsa had offered us the use of the arena one last time (in 2020) before the property changes its look to something new,” said Morgan. “We appreciate his generosity as well, but feel that the present COVID-19 threat necessitates this decision.”

“We were all looking forward to supporting the rodeo and roping competitions in the future,” said Chlupsa. “I hope to create new opportunities for the community.”

“It’s very sad the loss of our rodeo and the rodeo grounds and I remember growing up in Show Low and couldn’t wait until the rodeo,” said Show Low City Councilman and mayoral candidate John Leech Jr. “It’s part if our heritage.”

Deuces Wild future

Some members of the Show Low Rodeo Committee will move forward in the search to find a new venue for the Deuces Wild Rodeo. They will also explore fundraising opportunities to save the long-standing family-friendly event.

“We encourage anyone interested in helping with this project to watch for further information on joining this new group,” said Morgan. “After 15 years of presenting this popular rodeo, we hate to see the community lose this part of our western heritage.”

“We need to continue moving forward on a new location for a rodeo grounds,” said Leech Jr. “It would be awesome for something possibly in an area out by the race track, but we need some funding to make it happen. I hate to see it go away.”

“Our City knows how important rodeos are in our town and mountain not just for our residents but for tourists,” said Leech Jr. “I support the formation of a local committee to help the city find ideas on how to continue to move forward in support of this endeavor.”

On behalf of the Rodeo Committee, Morgan said they truly appreciate Victoria McCarty of McCarty Enterprises for letting them use the Village Arena for all these years.

“It was not a decision easily made, as this would have been our 15th year presenting this popular event — and the last at the Village Arena,” said Morgan.

Despite the rodeo cancellation, the 2020 Deuce’s Wild Rodeo Queens will be making appearances in the White Mountains and around the state at other rodeos. The royalty was selected prior to the decision to cancel this year’s event.

“Keep a look out for them, as they represent our rodeo and our community,” said Morgan. “Finally, we thank the community, our sponsors, and our volunteers who have helped with this event over the past 15 years.”

“When you support rodeo, you support America,” said Morgan on behalf of the the Deuces Wild Rodeo Committee.

Visit http://www.deuceswildrodeo.us/ for more information and committee announcements.

Reach the reporter at

lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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