More 'er Les

The Philip City Council voted Monday evening to supply the Philip Matched Bronc Ride with $1,500 of support for the 2012 Philip Invitational Matched Bronc Ride. The event started with $2,500 each year to help promote the event, then was cut back to $2,000, then to $1,500 for 2012 with talk of cutting back to zero.

The history behind this event started with a few people kicking the dirt, trying to come up with some ideas on how we can utilize the arena here in Philip. The arena association was made up of a few volunteers to oversee the arena and help make sure there was some organization. I am one of those volunteers. The financial situation was bad enough that the arena association had to start a benefit evening to gather enough money to pay for some upkeep and the lights. This helped and gave way to bringing in a number of people to enjoy the roping and barrel racing arena. We did not think those two events were enough and wanted some more stable events to happen in this arena. Thus, the matched bronc ride was born.

The original bucking chutes were on loan from another entity and were pulled out, so we had to rent bucking chutes. A few local people co-signed a note to borrow money to own the set of bucking chutes that are in the arena today. There have been a number of other improvements made over the past five years.

This is not the complete vision a few of us on the arena association had in mind, but you must start somewhere. Things are happening down there once again. The matched bronc ride completed its fourth event this past summer.

Some concern from the Philip City Council was using taxpayer money to promote this event. No other event that has had four successful consecutive years has paid back the taxpayers with the kind of sales tax that this event has directly and indirectly had. One evening bringing 2,000 people to town is only a part of the taxable dollars spent in Philip. The past couple of years we have had other events and during the summer there were three nights that were used for barrel racing, roping and saddle bronc riding. The food, gas and other items purchased on those nights would directly bring money for the Philip City Council to help run the city.

The recent work done at the arena was directly responsible for the roping club to host a two day team roping event that had over 200 teams participate. You might have noticed the many pickups and horse trailers around that weekend. All burn fuel and those particpants have to eat. More tax dollars!

There have been comments like: let's just use word of mouth as our advertising tool and that will be good enough. Why do we need to pay so much for bucking horses? Who is the benefactor of this event? There are a few things we have done that have made this event very, very successful. When the matched bronc committee sat down to organize the first event we knew we had to advertise and have the best horses and cowboys that we could possibly get. I feel we accomplished this, although we do have bigger goals. It is a known fact that once you start cutting promotion you are on borrowed time. We can go with word of mouth and make other cuts and then in a couple of years have absolutely nothing! There are many direct and indirect benefactors of this event, including the city of Philip, by way of tax revenue and Philip Chamber of Commerce and Haakon County Young Women, by way of percentages of concession sales. Also, many Philip businesses see increased revenue due to this event.

We did such a good job promoting that we had to totally restructure the way we sold tickets, seated people, and handled parking issues. I also helped park vehicles and it was very interesting to see the many people from all over the country pulling into this event.

This event was heavily advertised by this publication and others. We were fortunate to have local professionals to help us draw the attention to this event. To make cuts would be ridiculous.

Is the event going to die without the support of the city? No! Is the event going to die with limited support of the city? No! Is the city going to see a financial burden by helping promote the matched bronc ride? No! What events that our city council supports brings in more tax dollars than the Philip Matched Bronc Ride? I cannot think of any. If we, as a city, are not going to back events like this 100 percent, maybe we don't need to redo the streets, or maybe even turn the lights on.

The decision (some consider it a gift) that the city council made Monday night was not a stake to the heart of the Philip Matched Bronc Ride, just a pretty hard slap in the face to those individuals who have put in a great deal of effort the past four years to help bring people and tax dollars to town. There are approximately a dozen or so people who have directly made huge efforts to pull this off. There are an estimated 50 individuals who have donated time and money and have helped make improvements to the arena area.

Over the past four years, there has been no other event of this magnitude that has brought people to Philip. Direct sales tax benefits are the one key that the city should look at, and the fact that this event has allowed the city of Philip to advertise in a very positive way.