By HARRY CLARKE, Image: Stephen Mowbray Photography

ORGANISERS of the southern hemisphere’s largest rodeo are hoping to host their biggest ever event, with Australia’s largest prize pool accumulated and an expectation that ticket sales will exceed 40,000 for the first time.

The Mount Isa Mines Rodeo will be held from August 12-15 and committee CEO Natalie Flecker said the north west Queensland capital was abuzz with excitement about the event’s return.

Last year’s cancellation has given organisers an unprecedented planning timeframe, during which some 750 competitor entries have been fielded and pop superstar Guy Sebastian has been locked in to the entertainment lineup.

“After we held the ‘virtual rodeo’ during the pandemic last year, we’ve been working really hard and are very excited about being back in the live arena next month,” Ms Flecker (pictured) said.

“Ticket sales are going incredibly well. We are really buoyed by the number of people that have pre-purchased. We certainly have seen significant growth in our pre sales.

“It’s certainly looking like it’s going to be a record year for us, the way things are tracking. In 2019 we had 39,200 people attend and we’re hoping that we get, if not more, very close to that.”

Of a total $230,000 prize pool, the flagship open bull ride finishing on the Sunday will distribute the largest slice of the winnings – $24,000 – making it the highest stakes event on the Australian Professional Rodeo Association circuit.

Every Australian state and territory will be represented by competitors across the rodeo events, while spectator tickets, too, have been sold in all corners of the country.

As well Guy Sebastian, country music icon and Mount Isa Mines Rodeo regular Lee Kernaghan will also grace the stage at the iconic Buchanan Park rodeo precinct. Support acts include renowned country music artists Caasy Barnes and Mick Lindsay.

IMAGE: Stephen Mowbray Photography

Mount Isa City Council has just announced that Darryl Braithwaite will perform a free concert on the Tuesday night of rodeo week, followed by the traditional street party on Wednesday.

Ms Flecker said the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo would generate $8.6 million for the Queensland economy, with $13 million in cash to change hands in the town throughout rodeo week.

“The hype is definitely starting to build around town. The vibe is definitely shifting towards the rodeo,” she said.

“This is considered a bucket list event. There’s heaps to do and there’s great value for money. It’s a great family, community focussed event and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Buchanan Park at Mount Isa in full flight. IMAGE: Supplied
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