Correction: In Wednesday’s story “City takes another ride on Bull-a-Rama” (Trail Times, Jan. 28), it was reported that the event has cost the City of Trail $910,000. That number represents the city’s total expense over the last 14 years. In fact, the revenue has offset much of that expense and the event has cost the city approximately $250,000 over that span.Trail council gave the giddy-up for one more year of mutton bustin’ and bull ridin’ in a major Silver City event.
The 14th annual Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama, slated for April 25, was given $9,000 cash and the go-ahead during Monday’s governance meeting, although there is a proviso attached.
Council tasked the event’s organizers to bump up ticket sales by at least 200 this year after declining attendance and increased expenses cost the city about $25,000 in 2014, not including in-kind labour.
“That is the fly in our ointment,” said Gord McMartin, the committee’s chair. “I don’t like excuses, but last year there were other events that went on that affected us,” he continued. “And sponsorship, we didn’t hit that running either. But I know at the end of the day we have to sell more tickets and we will be in trouble if people don’t come out.”
McMartin, who accompanied longtime Bull-a-Rama volunteer Guy Thompson to the meeting, assured council that on top of a tightened budget, the committee has planned new ways to promote the one-day show, beginning with a reminder to fans south of the border.
“Last year we didn’t take in one American dollar,” McMartin noted. “Over the years we’ve gone down to Colville because those guys come out to bull riding. We can use social media to spread the word and have our sponsors advertise the Bull-a-Rama on their websites.”
Last year, children accounted for about one-third of the 1,302 tickets sold, so Thompson suggested another way to get more little seats into the arena.
“I keep hearing back we have to let kids in, which brings in parents and grandparents,” he said. “I say six and under, let them in for free and let’s make this more of a family thing.”
For Thompson, the event runs much deeper than yearly number crunching. He reminded council about the Bull-A-Rama’s key role in keeping a number of the community’s non-profits afloat.
“All we ever hear is what is this costing the city,” he conceded. “But some of the groups depend on the revenue we provide for them.”
The Trail Horseman’s Society has been around since the 1960s and would have folded long ago without support from the Bull-a-Rama, said Thompson. “Every cent we make stays in the community,” he noted. “This is a community event, not an individual one, so we are working as hard as we can to cut costs and bring a first class event to town.”
The Bull-a-Rama was on the chopping block after a 10 per cent decrease in attendance, added to other expenses in the last 14 years, has cost the city approximately $250,000.
On the other side of the coin, Thompson said non-profit groups, including the Trail Smoke Eaters and Greater Trail minor hockey, have benefited from about $250,000 raised during that same period.
“There appears to be a limited number of family oriented events like the Bull-a-Rama in Trail,” he said. “It’s grown popular with families so I think the city should be proud to be a major sponsor.”
Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, who as Trail’s appointee to the Bull-a-Rama group excused herself from the meeting and the council vote, told the Trail Times she is confident the committee can ramp up attendance.
“We are grateful for the city’s support and we are going to do it,” she said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be in our 14th year of the Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama. And we realize because of the support of the city, these non-profit recipients will benefit from the fruits of our labour.”