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High school rodeo state finals moving from Pocatello to Blackfoot this year

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EastIdahoNews.com file photo

BLACKFOOT — The Idaho High School State Finals Rodeo is still happening this year but in a new location.

For years, the annual rodeo has been held at the Bannock County Event Center in Pocatello. This year, it will take place at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds in Blackfoot, as Bannock County commissioners dropped the event due to public health concerns.

“We had consulted with the Bannock County commissioners. They had asked for our input on the (safety) plan that was submitted,” Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director Maggie Mann told EastIdahoNews.com. “We provided input, and Bannock County chose to not move ahead with the event.”

Bannock County commissioners could not be reached for comment.

General Manager of the Eastern Idaho State Fair Brandon Bird said fair officials found out Thursday they would be the hosts after they and the rodeo organizers “mutually sought each other out.”

“We are thrilled to be chosen as the venue for this year’s finals,” General Manager of the Eastern Idaho State Fair Brandon Bird said. “We know it’s under difficult circumstances. We recognize that, and we look forward to having the event here and what it means to the community and what it means to the fair.”

Bird said a lot is happening to make the rodeo finals happen.

“There’s still a lot to be worked out. This is going far too fast,” Bird told EastIdahoNews.com. “Usually, events like this, you’ve been in planning for the year before, and we’re doing this in days.”

Kelly Duffin, chairman of the Portneuf Rodeo Committee, said the event will have bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, breakaway roping, tie-down roping, goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing and steer wrestling.

The top four in each event will qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo, which is held in Oklahoma in July.

Food trucks will be on-site, and a nurse will be monitoring that to make sure food is provided in a safe manner. Other safety precautions will be taken, such as social distancing, preselling tickets and requesting families limit how many members attend.

Those who aren’t able to see the action in person can watch a live feed. How it will be broadcast is not yet finalized.

“We believe that we can do this safely. We’re going to follow a lot of the governor’s Phase 4 guidelines,” Duffin said. “And then we’re going to try to go above and beyond because we want to rodeo, and we want it to be safe. We have respect for our members and their families.”

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Visit the Idaho High School Rodeo Association website or Facebook page for more information.

“We’re doing this first and foremost for the kids. That’s really the reason,” Duffin said.

Duffin said usually, the rodeo goes for eight days, but due to COVID-19, it’ll be four. The rodeo runs from June 16 to 19.

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