Pott. County, city of Shawnee provide funds for 2021 rodeo

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star

Pottawatomie County and the city of Shawnee have each awarded $50,000 each to the Shawnee Civic and Cultural Development Authority Board of Trustees for the 28th International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR).

According to Randy Gilbert, the 2021 IFYR will be held July 11-16 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center. The move-in date is July 9 and contestants can enter events online starting April 1.

Gilbert said the trust authority is excited to host the 2021 IFYR and intends to use the $100,000 to pay contractors for the award belts and saddles given to the winners, as well as other expenses.

"We have a lot of excitement from the volunteers and certainly from the community," Gilbert said. "Due to 2020 we (were) not sure where the sponsors (were) yet and we (were) not sure where the operational money would come from."

After meetings with Shawnee and the county, Gilbert said the trust authority received the funds needed to host the event.

This year, Gilbert said the International Professional Rodeo Association will be working with the trust authority in managing the event.

"The trust authority feels like it's going to be very exciting. It's going to be a great year and we're looking forward to the rodeo," Gilbert said.

In addition, Gilbert said the trust authority will seek other funds from sponsors but it just depends on how they were impacted by 2020.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Gilbert said the trust authority will also follow CDC guidelines at the rodeo, and everyone will need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

"We are certainly going to be compliant with the CDC requirements," Gilbert said. "We will have policies in place if we have contestants that test positive."

Students from all over Oklahoma and around 32 states are expected to participate in the rodeo, Gilbert said, but they are not yet certain of any youth coming from other countries.

"We hope to be in that 750-850 range of contestants. With somewhere between 1,100-1,200 entrees," Gilbert said. "We're not sure about the international aspect of it yet — it depends on the pandemic."

Gilbert said it's wonderful to be able to put on the rodeo this year, especially since it was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19.

"We are not sure what tomorrow will bring but we're going to be prepared and we're going to have alternative plans for it and we look forward to the 2021 IFYR," Gilbert said.

Check back for updates.