Editorial: Saluting the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere

A Rotary exhibit in the newly opened Isa Rodeo Hall of Fame at the Outback at Isa.

A Rotary exhibit in the newly opened Isa Rodeo Hall of Fame at the Outback at Isa.

And so disappearing behind us in a cloud of north west Queensland dust is the Mount Isa 60th anniversary rodeo.

The rodeo that so much preparation went into, the rodeo that attracted enormous crowds, the rodeo that brought thousands of smiles and hundreds of rodeo and music stars to our city is over, seemingly in a flash.

The Mount Isa Rodeo has become a five-day festival juggernaut encompassing a fantastic street festival and the crowd favourite Mailman Express as well as three fantastic days of rodeo.

And while I can understand those who miss the “old days” of Kalkadoon Park, the absolute beauty of Buchanan Park is its centralness to town.

Rodeo is so big now we cannot underestimate its importance these days in the local, regional and statewide economy.

As Queensland tourism minister Kate Jones noted the Isa Rodeo is an iconic Queensland event which now attracts around 15,000 people who spend more than $8 million each year.

It is not surprising therefore, if a little sad, that fact will be reflected in a small but important name change next year. 

From 2019 and for the next five years it will become the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo, a name change that is doubly important.

First because it recognises that after 60 years it has outgrown its hard-working but volunteer Rotary roots – just as the successful North American rodeos in Houston and Calgary also did.

The rodeo is a testament to the work and vision of early Isa Rotarians determined to do something big for their town and boy, did they succeed in spades.

The Rotary involvement will continue in the committee, volunteers and fundraising but it is appropriate that Mount Isa Mines continue to expand on their similar 59 year association with the rodeo.

Their five year deal takes out out to 2023 – roughly the current shelf life of the Isa copper mine – but we have five years to probably extend that lifespan and with it, most likely, continued sponsorship of the rodeo.

In the meantime I congratulate everyone involved in making the 60th anniversary rodeo a special time and a wonderful success – Derek Barry