Wide-Open Spaces

Rodeo retailers are sweating over business, while some commuting fans just sweat

"From time to time, there are equipment malfunctions," explained Metro spokeswoman Julie Gilbert.

She also quickly doused prevalent reports circulating among the livestock show merchants: that rodeo officials attributed the lack of daytime attendance to Metro, because it did not want to open more lots to rodeo fans during workdays, when they were being used by regular commuters.

While the big-name entertainers have evening performances during the week, the livestock show and rodeo opens at 9 a.m. every morning. Most of the regular attractions of the event -- educational presentations, exhibits, cowboy autographs, the petting zoo and other features, including the retail booths -- are available to the public during the daytime.

The Kohlers are among the vendors who noticed a decline in early rodeo attendance.
Steven Long
The Kohlers are among the vendors who noticed a decline in early rodeo attendance.

One rodeo vendor, whose booth is near the Kohlers', says of rodeo officials, "They told us that they can't use the park-and-rides until the people get off work; you can't sell anything to people if they aren't here."

Metro officials say not to blame them. They are only following orders.

"We are operating the service that the rodeo asked us to do, and they asked us to start it at these times," Gilbert explains. "Six of the lots we are using aren't even Metro lots."

Gilbert says some rodeo fans still show up at the evening lots during the weekday, although the agency has tried to inform the public of the scheduling.

"Our phone number had 6,000 calls on Saturday," prior to opening day, she said. "We will be happy to make any adjustments that the rodeo requests that we make."

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