City Council approves funding for Jackson Black Rodeo, two weeks after delaying a vote on the request
Tuesday, the council voted 3-2 to give the Real Cowboy Association $15,000 to go toward rodeo costs.
The move comes two weeks after the council delayed voting on the same request, saying they were concerned whether the funds would be used for security.
According to city documents, at least a portion of the $15,000 would be used to support new safety protocols being implemented at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds following the Mississippi Mudbug Festival shooting this spring.
The amount was increased from the previous event’s $10,000 ask, largely due to security needs, Parks and Recreation Director Ison Harris told the council earlier this month.
Voting in favor of the measure were Council members Angelique Lee, Kenneth Stokes and Vernon Hartley.
Opposed were Councilmen Aaron Banks and Ashby Foote.
“I think the Black Rodeo is great. I understand the need for increased security protocols, but I’m still where I was (previously). Are there not other ways that we can guarantee those security agreements, and have we had those conversations?” Banks asked. “We have a reserve unit with Jackson Police Department... We have a reserve unit with the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department... they do events. Have those conversations happened?”
The rodeo is slated for Saturday, July 16, at the Mississippi Coliseum, according to the Real Cowboy Association’s website.
Hartley, who represents Ward 5, said he was voting in favor of the allocation, but was holding his nose.
“I’ll support it, but I do have reservations,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing, but I’m concerned (by) the way it was couched.”
Organizers said a portion of the funds were needed for security. However, the agenda item says that funds would be used for “the purpose of advertising and bringing into favorable notice possibilities and opportunities in the city.”
Harris told the council that in the past, funds have also been used for other things as well, such as purchasing dirt for the event.
City documents go on to state that the event is expected to have a $1.6 million economic impact.
Banks questioned whether the event would have such an impact, saying that people who attend the rodeo stay and cook on the fairgrounds, rather than go to local hotels and restaurants.
“I have questions when it comes to the real numbers in that study,” he said.
He also said he had gotten calls from other promoters in the city, saying the city has not helped them cover their security costs.
“I tend to want to make sure we’re supporting our own,” Banks added.
Harris said the city does support other events, and that he has friends that come into Jackson for the rodeo who do stay in local hotels during their visit.
“It’s something that we need to make sure we continue to support... it is somewhat of a legacy,” Harris said. “I do know that other cities they go to, they support them. So, this is not done arbitrarily. That’s one of the reasons they always select Jackson, and (one of the reasons) we’ve done that over the last few years.”
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