NOTHING BUT SMILES: The rodeo is a fantastic way to bring the community together.
NOTHING BUT SMILES: The rodeo is a fantastic way to bring the community together.

Saddlin’ up support: Rodeo success key to drought survival

Cowboys from across the country are saddling up to ride and heading to the Warwick Rodeo and Campdraft, a country calendar staple since well before legend Buddy Willams immortalised the event in song.

Mr Williams received a key to the city for his efforts in promoting the week-long event, heralding it as a great day out to experience the "true west", with its bucking bulls and broncos.

The festivities are sure to chase away the cowboy blues for many drought-affected families, according to organiser Teilah McKelvey.

"This year has been hard with the weather conditions because the majority of people connected to the rodeo are part of the agricultural industry," Mrs McKelvey explained.

"There's a lot of people struggling on the home front.

"But these people want to see the event go ahead because it gives them some reprieve."

The gathering of checked shirts, Akubra hats and cans of beer, on the last weekend of October, is a rare opportunity for rural residents to celebrate their solidarity and strength.

"It's a break from the isolation," Mrs McKelvey said.

"A lot of these people live on properties with no neighbours in sight.

"People come together and see friends they might only get a chance to once a year, while enjoying the spectacle of the sport."

The event has played an important role in the community for over 100 years, persevering through world wars, great depressions and a number of damaging droughts.

"We've been able to maintain our competitor numbers in the dry conditions which is great," Mrs McKelvey said.

"I've enjoyed seeing everyone come together to make this big event happen.

"It's going to provide a massive economic boost at a time we really need it."

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