THE 54th Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo, the third largest in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, opens its gates today for the first event at midday.

The full program kicks off  this afternoon.

The Mardi Gras, where everyone in Mount Isa comes out to play, starts its parade around the streets encompassing Buchanan Park at 7pm and there’ll be free family entertainment at the Mardi Gras Precinct at Buchanan Park. 

The opening ceremony with the introduction of the cowboys starts at 8pm and the night’s action begins with the open bareback. 

Rodeo manager Tricia Esdaile said they were expecting 26,000 go through the gates this year.

“We trialed a swag city this year with a goal of 150 bookings, which has been exceeded, and we have bookings from all states in Australia, so that’s very exciting,” she said.

“We also know from the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) that nominations are up in most events, compared to the past three to four years so that’s another encouraging sign.” 

Only the world-famous Calgary Stampede and the Cheyenne Frontier Days were larger than the Mount Isa Rodeo which was born in 1959 as the brainchild of an ambitious young Rotary Club to create an iconic charity fundraiser and as a vision to put Mount Isa on the map. 

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