BLACKFOOT -- Questions were answered and an official green light was given Monday for the Idaho High School Rodeo Finals to take place in Blackfoot.
Bingham County commissioners met with Southeastern Idaho District Health Director Maggie Mann, Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll and Kelly Duffin and Holly Davis from the Idaho High School Rodeo Association regarding the state rodeo finals slated for June 16-19.
Commissioner Mark Bair met with Carroll a few days earlier to discuss the rodeo after attending Thursday night’s District 4 rodeo competition at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds. Because of the concern about going forward, they worked through the weekend with Mann about the outlook for the rodeo. Duffin and Davis were then brought into the discussion.
After Bair introduced everything, Mann announced that after reviewing the plan put forward by Davis and Duffin, she put her “stamp of approval” on the plan, with some caveats.
Mann said she felt the plan for the rodeo in Blackfoot was more than sufficient and that it had changed significantly since the plan provided to Bannock County — which is where the rodeo was contracted to take place for 2020 and 2021.
Commissioner Whitney Manwaring said Friday's rodeo "was spaced out and not a lot of people there. My concern is who will police the social distancing in the crowd?”
Duffin and Davis replied that each district is required to police their own people and are legally bound via contract to do so. Manwaring acknowledged that it ultimately is the choice of the person to attend an event, and the plan is sufficient.
Legal responsibility remained a concern. Bingham County and the city of Blackfoot do not want to be held accountable for anyone contracting COVID-19, and their insurance will not cover it. Moreover, they do not want to be a cause of increasing cases.
Duffin and Davis said 190 contestants are expected, along with six people per contestant expected to attend. That means an influx of about 1,00 people to Blackfoot. The grandstands hold 3,000 people, so the 1,000 people with wristbands should be able to safely social distance.
Carroll discussed the possibility of someone coming in and infecting local people with COVID-19 while Manwaring provided the opposite; that someone local could infect someone visiting for the rodeo. Because of those concerns, it was asked if the event could be delayed. Duffin said a delay would prevent the Idaho team from participating in the national finals.
Carroll voiced a concern that it would be against Gov. Brad Little’s orders of tournament play, but Mann stated that it meets the governor’s requirements.
County and city leaders said they would love to see Bingham County become the home of the state high school finals. Duffin explained that the board of directors “has a long-term memory and will hold a grudge.” They previously had voted 17-3 to approach Bingham County to host it following the denial by the Bannock County commissioners.