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Oakley Independence Rodeo

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

This week the best cowboys from across America will compete in Oakley, Utah at one of the premier rodeos in the country. The 68th annual Oakley Independence Rodeo begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. and runs through Saturday.

I spoke with the rodeo's chairman, Gerald Young, who has been involved with the Oakley rodeo since before he can remember. A native of Oakley, Gerald competed in the bareback and bull riding events as a teenager, and he's been hooked on rodeos ever since. In fact, when Gerald's not busy planning the rodeo, he owns and operates a large cattle farm outside of town.

Courtesy of its donors and sponsors like Zions Bank, the rodeo guarantees this year's winners a purse of at least $50,000. If money from ticket sales, entrance fees and other items comes in as is expected, that number could exceed $120,000. The cash will go to whichever riders rope the fastest and stay on the longest.

Gerald told me that in recent years the rodeo has drawn national attention. That's because from 2000 to 2001, it was televised on ESPN as one of 12 rodeos on the station's summer tour. As always, the Oakley rodeo will be one of the main stops for athletes trying to qualify for the sport's ultimate event -- the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. This year, besides the world-famous bull riders and bronc-busters, the rodeo in Oakley will feature three of the best-known rodeo clowns on the circuit. They'll be on hand to amuse fans and protect the riders.

Gerald said that over the years revenue generated by the rodeo has helped to keep local taxes down. Consequently, there's even a new complex under construction, one that will feature a new stadium for the rodeo, and baseball diamonds for the community. If business goes along as planned, the stadium could be ready for use as early as next summer.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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