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Dayton Rodeo canceled

-Daily Freeman-Journal file photo Paden Hurst, of Huntsville, Texas, gets a little time in the air during a past bareback bronc event at the Dayton Championship Rodeo. He stayed on for the full 8 seconds and scored a 76.5 This year's rodeo has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DAYTON — The 2020 Annual Dayton Labor Day Pro Rodeo has been canceled for the first time in its history, according to a Wednesday announcement from the Dayton Rodeo Celebration Committee.

“It was one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever made,” said Matt Johnson, rodeo chairman.

Citing the current economy and social distancing requirements “not likely to go away any time soon,” the committee said it was faced with the same difficult decision as many other events already canceled this year around Webster County. The cancellation continues the trend of large event closures throughout the summer, dipping into September, as COVID-19 concerns grow even more pervasive with no peak of infections or deaths in sight around Iowa.

Johnson said the unprecedented circumstances force the first cancellation of the annual event in the rodeo’s history since it started in 1937, to his knowledge. This year would have been the 83rd annual event.

“The reality of being able to produce a successful rodeo is unlikely,” given the circumstances, the committee said in a press release.

The rodeo funded solely by local sponsors and rodeo fans said it did not want to burden sponsors during a difficult time given the anticipated lower attendance rate.

“The committee felt the financial risk was too great and will put future rodeos in jeopardy if all costs cannot be covered,” the release noted.

With roughly 65 volunteers, the annual event takes an entire year full of hundreds of hours of planning that starts at the end of each rodeo. The committee will now invest their efforts into reinforcing the success of the 2021 rodeo.

With extra planning going into next year’s event, planners are hoping it will be better than ever when it can be held safely.

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