Augusta rodeo

The Augusta American Legion pulled the plug on the 84th annual Augusta American Legion PRCA Rodeo given the guidelines needed to adhere to social distancing. The action above was taken during the 2019 rodeo.

Two floods couldn’t take out the Augusta rodeo, but the pandemic did.

That is how Ben Arps, longtime organizer of the Augusta Rodeo, summed up the cancellation of the 84th annual Augusta American Legion PRCA Rodeo, which was scheduled for June 26-27. “This is the first time in the rodeo’s history we have had to cancel the event,” Arps said. “We postponed it due to flood damage, but held it a little later that year.”

“We waited as long as we could to determine if conditions would change in the state in time and it just doesn’t look as it is going to,” Arps said. “To adhere to the state social distancing guidelines, we could only accommodate about a third of the crowd we generally have for the main rodeo."

As much as the Legion members would like to hold the rodeo, they wouldn’t be able to generate enough revenue to pay the participants and cover their other expenses. “In fact, we would probably go the other way; it would cost us quite a bit,” Arps said.

The group will be missing out on funds they had anticipated having from the rodeo, but Arps said they will still be okay. The crew hadn’t made any major improvements to the grounds for this year’s event, having completed several major upgrades following damage done by flooding in the last few years.

“We will be back and ready to go again next year,” Arps said.

The American Legion donates the profits from the rodeo back into the community, Arps said. They have made some donations already this year and hope to make some more, even without holding the rodeo. The group is looking into applying for grants and loans that would help with their donations.

The spokesman for the Augusta Chamber of Commerce, contacted on May 17, said they didn’t have any news to report on regarding other activities regularly held in conjunction with the rodeo.