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Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

Rodeo CEO: Successful event requires hard work by Jaycees and volunteers

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

(Photo)
Rob Clay is serving as the general chairman of the 2003 Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo
SIKESTON - Ask Rob Clay what the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo's general chairman does and he quips: "Answers the phone."

Then he grins and adds: "No really, I take care of the administrative matters, coordinate work parties and everything that goes on in each individual area - from making the application to the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) to making up the budget."

He pauses because his phone is ringing.

A 12-year member of the Sikeston Jaycees, Clay is heading up this year's rodeo, which opens tonight and will continue through Saturday. It is a job, he said, which has consumed his time since the 2002 rodeo closed last August.

Last fall, he estimated he spent about five to 10 hours a month working on plans for the 2003 event. There were monthly meetings with the Jaycees who comprise the Rodeo Board along with weekly Jaycee meetings.

As the new year began, the hours increased. In May and June, he estimated he was spending 10 to 15 hours each week on rodeo-related activities. "We call July our heavy season. Since the beginning of July it has been well over 25 hours a week, that's just in the daytime, not the nights when we have worked on the rodeo grounds. It's been a lot more hours than I've put into my work - it's like having a second job."

A certified public accountant with Clay, Showmaker, Clay and Conway in Sikeston, Clay admits it wasn't easy being the general chairman and kicking off the rodeo publicity during tax season. Plus, during that time, he was serving as comptroller for the organization.

Now, he said, the most difficult part is keeping up with all the questions posed by his chairmen, the work crews and others. "Sometimes it seems like there are five or six people waiting for me to finish talking with someone. I never seem to be able to help with the work because there are so many questions."

But he was prepared to take on the job. During previous rodeos, he has been in charge of grounds, pageants, and pens and chutes and last year was general co-chairman. Also his administrative experience from his real-life job has proved to be helpful, he said.

"A lot of people don't realize the mundane things involved in being general chairman. You have to get the rooms set aside for all the people coming in, work on the ticket tradeouts, deal with the contractual stuff. There is a lot of paperwork and a lot of things that have to get done behind the scenes," Clay said. "I liken it to being a general manger or CEO of large company - you answer to everyone and oversee a lot."

While some people may not realize the work that goes into the rodeo, Clay said the Jaycees' wives and children do. One of his regrets is the amount of time he has had to spend away from his wife, Shannon, and their children, Jackson, 4, and six-month-old Spencer.

Coming off a record rodeo in 2002, the 50th anniversary year, Clay said this year the Jaycees have had to work harder to sell tickets. Their efforts, said the general chairman, are paying off.

"A lot of people don't realize the impact the rodeo has on the entire community," he explained. "We pull people in from throughout the area, not just Sikeston. They come from surrounding counties and from out-of-state. They are filling up the hotels, bringing people into the restaurants and into the stores."

Now Clay and the other Jaycees are watching the weather. Clear skies and moderate temperatures will bring out more fans. He estimated two-thirds of the rodeo sales are complete by July, the final one-third of sales are made this week.

As the 2003 rodeo chairman, Clay has overseen several changes to the rodeo format. The Jaycees moved the starting time to 7 p.m. and the entertainment will follow the rodeo action. According to Clay, these changes should make the event more family-friendly by improving the flow and providing an earlier ending time.

Quick to point out the success of every rodeo doesn't depend on just one person, Clay explained the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo becomes a reality each year due to the hard work of many. He praised his co-chairman Lloyd Stoner, who will take charge of the 2004 rodeo, along with the other rodeo area chairmen.

Also Clay noted there are many Jaycees who have volunteered their time and even community volunteers who have joined their work crews. "This really is a community event and that is nice. We do get good community support," said Clay.

With the start of the rodeo, Clay admits he is looking forward to its end. "I've been told the greatest satisfaction comes when you look up in the stands and have a large crowd enjoying themselves. Or maybe it will be when we do our final report and see what we can give back to the community. But right now I think it will be when I finally get to sleep Saturday night then I'll sleep until I can't sleep any longer."