More detail into the Mardi Gras decision

We are now just over 100 days to go until the 59th Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo.

Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo manager Natalie Flecker.

Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo manager Natalie Flecker.

It’s been an exciting start to the year with the Isa Rodeo winning gold in the Best Festivals and Events category of the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

In the course of planning for this year’s rodeo, it became clear that the mardi gras has not been working in Buchanan Park and after very careful consideration, the MIRRI committee reluctantly took the decision to cancel this year’s event in its traditional form.

This decision has been necessary due to a combination of a number of factors, including the dwindling number of floats - just 20 last year, a decrease of 20 per cent on the previous year. We also recognise that volunteer resources get really stretched over the rodeo weekend. Our volunteers setting up the mardi gras were starting at 6am and not finishing working non-stop until midnight.

It’s a challenge to find people who want to do this year after year. This workload does not decrease respective of the number of floats.

Last year, the Isa Rodeo paid $75,000 to volunteers who help us put on the rodeo and this won’t change. The Rodeo’s Queen Quest also raised another $87,500 for the entrants’ chosen charities and the event overall contributed more than $7 million directly into the local economy.

Behind the scenes, there has been plenty of consideration about the mardi gras, and we fully support council’s plans to incorporate a street parade into its Isa Street Festival on Wednesday night of rodeo week.

We will provide support, including assistance to set up the parade and with marshalling traffic.

These changes will allow us to start the evening entertainment two and a half hours earlier at Buchanan Park on Friday night of rodeo weekend, which will give more value to our Friday attendees.

We are also still working on something special for the community for Friday night, however I can announce we will be incorporating the winners of the parade in our opening ceremony.

We fully realise tradition and history as a very real part of our community’s memories of rodeo.

Sometimes change is necessary, but we will be working together with the council and the community to help make the rodeo the best it can be.