“From Rodeos to Cultural Balls: Activities Committee Finds Success,” Ensign, Jan. 1980, 73
With at least three other rodeos in Lehi, Utah, last season, including one big three-day extravaganza that drew visitors from all over the state, you’d have thought that our little ward rodeo would have been lost in the crush. But as it was, the Lehi Thirteenth Ward rodeo was very well attended. Several hundred people came to join the fun, and when it was over, it was not only a financial success, but all attending had had a good time.
Who sponsored this successful event? The ward activities committee, who enlisted the help of more than eighty people, including sixty ward members, to pull it off. And the rodeo was only one of a dozen activities that the committee, working under direction of the bishopric, has provided the ward in the past year.
Planning for the ward rodeo began with the calling of two specialists, who worked under supervision of the activities committee. The specialists organized several subcommittees, with a different subcommittee to head the rodeo itself, the dance, the concessions, the ticket sales, the queen contest, and so on.
With our leaders, we decided early that we wanted to make the rodeo a community affair, so we went all-out on advertising. First we had 193 ward members and friends order “Lehi 13th Ward Rodeo” tee shirts, which were worn around town whenever appropriate. We acquired some advertising time on some of the local radio stations; we put posters in downtown stores; we put an ad in our local paper.
Our efforts were successful far beyond our hopes. Nearly five hundred people, including many nonmembers, came out to see the bareback rides, calf roping, bull rides, and clowns—as well as the special features we added: the bunny chase, chicken chase, colt scramble, barrel race, pole bending, and team roping.
The queen contest, which was for married ladies, was also very successful.
This event was a high point for the ward activities committee, but there were other successes too. Since the committee was first called, we’ve had a ward activity every month. Some of our activities have been a horseback ride (the committee arranged for the horses), a harvest ball, a full-scale ward play, an arts and crafts festival (including a men’s pie-baking contest), a music festival, a water skiing outing, and a ward campout. All of these activities have been held for entire families.
We feel that keys to the success in our efforts have been planning and perseverance. On planning, Duane Shock, our committee chairman, says, “We plan at least a year in advance, selecting the activities that are best suited to our ward, choosing the dates, and making a year’s calendar. These are all approved by the bishopric. Then we recommend specialists for each activity two or three months in advance so they will have plenty of time to think and plan after they are called by the bishopric. After the specialist is called, we invite him or her into our weekly committee meeting to discuss the activity and to talk about responsibilities.”
As important as planning is perseverance. The committee, composed of Brother Shock, Wirth Sanderson, Les Barber, myself, and our leaders determined early that we would continue to have our monthly activity even though interest seemed at first to be low. It paid off. At first, attendance was low, but after a few months, as we publicized coming activities and as word-of-mouth excitement spread, the ward members gradually became more and more active. The attendance at our first music festival was about 75. At the same activity a year later the attendance was nearly 150. And the interest grows and grows. At our ward olympics we had nearly 250 people in attendance. At the rodeo there were 500.
How has all this benefited the ward? It has measurably increased the feeling of unity in the ward. Several members have increased their activity as a direct result of involvement in ward activities. It has given more people a chance to serve. It has helped ward members become better acquainted. And it has erased some ill feelings that had existed and replaced them with love and good will.
One of the nicest things about all these benefits is the fun we’ve had in the process!