Seven years ago, Richard Allegre founded the Fallon Ranch Rodeo for one reason — because his daughter Amanda asked.
“When the country fair was started, there was nothing going on in the main arena and they wanted to have something,” Allegre said, recanting the rodeo’s origins. “So my daughter asked me to put one on because she was the 4H Coordinator at the time, so I jumped in with both feet and this is my seventh year.”
Since then the fair has moved on with the Cantaloupe Festival in its stead, but Amanda, who was 24 at the time, still helps put the program together for her father’s rodeo, which has proven since it is here to stay.
The ranch rodeo has roped in 300-400 fans a year ever since and, this year, reaching a new high with 20 teams competing. The competition begins today and runs through Sunday, with morning and evening schedules allowing for breaks to avoid the mid-day heat. The cost is $5 a person with free admission for kids 10 and under.
“Last year was the first year that the fair moved with the Cantaloupe Festival, and I stayed on the same date because there is a junior rodeo on Labor Day Weekend,” Allegre said in light of the recent heat-wave in Fallon, “so that’s why I’m on this date.”
Allegre’s rodeo has all the elements of a classic with not as many changes to the form over the years, having added trailer loading to the events last year while everything else riding, roping and handling has been on the bill since the first year at the fairgrounds.
Though the rodeo began with a big turnout of fans just like the rise in the number of competitors, the number of sponsors has snowballed over the years. More than 20 businesses and organizations in and around Fallon chipped in to support the rodeo and have their banner featured in the arena, including, as of last year, the Fallon Convention and Tourism Board.
“After the fair left last year, I got some help from the county and from the tourism board I had never gotten before,” Allegre said. “Those are two sponsors who have really helped. There’s been more sponsors willing to contribute to the kids events and the prizes.”
The biggest way Allegre said the county has helped since then is advertising, since, despite a steady stream of fans showing up at the fairgrounds year after year, word of mouth only spreads so far.
“Advertising is a big thing — it’s costly, and the county kicked in and helped pay for it,” he said. “If you don’t get the word out, people don’t know.”
Since the beginning, the Western States Ranch Rodeo Association (WSRRA) named Allegre’s rodeo one of the qualifying rodeos for the Nevada State Ranch Rodeo in Winnemucca each November, which has always brought in talent from outside of Fallon, though, Allegre said the multiple teams from California and Oregon this year are more numerous than in the past.
“There was a few teams from out of town, maybe one or two from Calif,.” he said on the beginning. “It’s gotten bigger for sure, but if people ar busy on their own ranches and have got things going in they may try to get away but sometimes it’s just not possible.”
As the rodeo grew bit by bit each year, so did Allegre’s costs to make it work, a labor of love since the beginning.
“Everything goes up price wise as far as insurance, advertising, even if it’s gradually, it still has an effect,” he said. “We try to make it work. I’m not in this to make money. All the money paid in goes back to the contestants.”
The old addage of “The more things change, the more they stay the same” seems to embody Allegre, who said he has strived since the beginning to preserve the rodeo as Fallon has loved it for years.
“If something’s working and everybody’s happy with the way it is, I don’t see why I’d change it,” he said. “Twenty teams is the max and it’s a lot of work just to do what I do now. Only thing I would change is the time of the year and not have it be so hot, but it all comes together.”