At this point I think many people are just happy that the Gilbert parade and rodeo are still happening in Gilbert.
In the face of eroding sponsorships and bowing to the community’s wishes, the Gilbert Promotional Corp. had been considering holding the Gilbert Days Rodeo in Apache Junction.
GPC President Chelle Bullard said the town of Gilbert has reconsidered and the parade & rodeo will now be Nov. 18-20 in the downtown Heritage District.
The rodeo will be scaled back to a bulls-only event, or a “rough stock,” and held in the empty lot at the southeastern corner of Gilbert and Elliot roads, where an arena and bleachers will be installed. The Gilbert Days Lil Dudes Rodeo also will be there, and a wild-horse race will be the half-time show.
The parade theme is “100 Years of Progress.”
A number of new events will be added to the revamped Gilbert Days celebration, including a carnival, art show, craft fair, business expo, bed race, rodeo dance, pancake breakfast, hay-bucking contest, car show and poker run.
The Apache Junction Town Council pulled a previous plan to partner with Superstition Mountain Promotional Corp. to put on Gilbert Days Rodeo at that city’s Rodeo Park Event Center.
While thanking the council for its generosity and “downright neighborly” support, Bullard cited a host of unforeseen obstacles that are have a negative impact on the production of the Gilbert Days Rodeo outside the town.
Town officials wanted Gilbert’s high school marching bands to participate, but couldn’t the past few years because of a state band festival. This year, the town encouraged GPC to move the parade date to avoid a conflict with the band festival.
Bullard also told the council that financial support for the rodeo had diminished.
“Going into this arrangement, we knew that Lost Dutchman Days had their loyal sponsors, and Gilbert Days had theirs. In visiting with our sponsors, there was great reservation, on their behalf, to enter into a market area that wasn’t their primary target,” she said.
Holding Gilbert Days in Apache Junction also would have conflicted with GPC’s mission statement, Bullard said.
The GPC is a non-profit, civic-minded organization that serves Gilbert by promoting Western heritage and traditions. Bullard said she knew GPC was violating the mission, but “just temporarily.”
“We were blindsided by the reaction from our community. Mission statements are powerful, and there are reasons that you adhere to them,” she said.
GPC holds regular meetings at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month at Hyatt Place Phoenix/Gilbert, 3275 S. Market St., Gilbert. The meeting is open to the public.