Trying to pinpoint the overall success of a major event such as Chief Joseph Days is not easy because, for this years July 25-28 event at least, definitive answers simply are not available.
With total ticket sales of $167,000 for the four nights of the 2012 CJD rodeo, a new all-time revenue record was set. In total contrast, Brad Snook, co-owner of Sports Corral Inc., a long-standing western wear and camping supply business in Joseph says he thinks overall business numbers at his store were down this year.
Terry McArtor, co-Chief Joseph Days rodeo chairman along with Terry Jones, says members of Chief Joseph Days Rodeo Inc., which coordinates the annual event, were quite pleased with crowd attendance at night rodeos this year, yet disappointed that the number of bareback and saddle bronc entrants was down.
Although saying he has no statistics to back up his thoughts on the matter, McArtor expressed his opinion that the decline in bareback and saddle bronc cowboys entering CJD directly is attributable to the fact there are more bull riding events on the rodeo circuit than bareback or saddle competitions, and they routinely offer a higher purse.
A lot more young riders are going to bull riding because there are more events and the payoffs are greater, says McArtor.
Debbie Short, office manager at the Joseph Chamber of Commerce, says overall ticket sale returns this year were $4,000 higher than sales in 2011 and $10,000 higher than 2010.
Short cautions about the validity of comparing one years total with the next, stating that ticket prices were upped in 2010 and now range from $12 to $18 apiece.
The office manager for the Joseph Chamber says there is a common misconception about how much money actually filters back into the coffers of Chief Joseph Days Rodeo Inc.
According to Short, more than $126,000 had to be paid out over the course of the four-night event to meet contractual obligations.
McArtor says the biggest thing he gleaned from the 2012 rodeo that will benefit its overall success in future years dealt with slack calf ropers.
Last month, said McArtor, two of the better known calf ropers on the circuit took their turns roping their allotted two calves during slack roping, before possibly 200 spectators, and then left town for the next rodeo.
A future antidote to that problem, he said, would be to move such renowned cowboys from slack to full performance status where they would, if willing, perform before nighttime audiences of possibly 2,500 people.