Local bull contractor says Yass Rodeo wasn't cancelled because of the drought

Yass Rodeo was alive and kicking in 2017.
Yass Rodeo was alive and kicking in 2017.

A local stock contractor to the Yass Rodeo has disputed the Yass Show Society’s decision to cancel the event due to the drought.

The rodeo should have been held on Saturday, November 10, but the Society’s president, Rob McAuliffe, said it wasn’t fair to ask people to supply cattle in their current condition, because of the drought.

If the society doesn’t want to run the rodeo, that’s fine, but they can’t say it’s because of the drought.

George Hempenstall

“If the cattle are stressed, they go backwards,” Mr McAuliffe told the Tribune.

However, George Hempenstall, who breeds bulls for the Yass Rodeo and other rodeos nationally, said his livestock were in “prime condition.”

“They get fed really well. I’ve just spent $10,000 on special pellets for them and have been buying hay just to keep them on the road.”

Mr Hempenstall ended up supplying his bulls to the Queanbeyan Show Bullride instead, which has since moved its date to the same date as the Yass Rodeo.

“If the society doesn’t want to run the rodeo, that’s fine, but they can’t say it’s because of the drought,” he said.

We always made money; we were making quite a bit of money actually.

Richard Buckmaster

“During a drought is the time you’d want to run a rodeo. It’s good for morale - it helps take farmers’ minds off the drought for one weekend - and you can donate the money raised to those that need it.”

“The rodeo brought a lot of people to town too.”

Mr Hempenstall said cancelling the Yass Rodeo has put pressure on his business.

“Not running the rodeo is bad for us, because we look after the bulls specifically for that. We’re behind now.”

Mr McAuliffe said the other reason for cancelling the Yass Rodeo was due to increasing costs. He said the Society lost money from running last year’s event and that the rodeo often struggled to make money.

However, Richard Buckmaster was the president of the Yass Rodeo from 1969 up until about three years ago and said the event never made a loss in the years he was involved.

“We always made money; we were making quite a bit of money actually and we kept the finances separate from the Society. 

“The money we made, we used to give to the society to help pay for things they needed, like a project or event.”

McAuliffe said the Society does plan to run the rodeo again next year and that the Professional Bull Riders would be on the Saturday night of the Yass Show, March 23-24.

However, locals usually involved with the rodeo are concerned it won’t return, especially now that the Queanbeyan Show is running on the same date. It's believed the Yass Rodeo hasn't been cancelled since 1969.