The Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo will come back for a third year, but there will be some changes this time.
Boardwalk Rodeo chairwoman Janet Markowitz confirmed that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) event will be held Oct. 5 and 6 at Boardwalk Hall. The past two years, it was held in late March and early April, but Easter was March 31 this year.
“(The first year), we did want fall to begin with. It just didn’t work out,” Markowitz said. “I think fall is going to be a great time.”
Markowitz said the new date will allow the rodeo to be held in conjunction with a grilling festival that weekend that is being planned by the Atlantic City Alliance, a casino-funded organization that promotes tourism in the city.
The other big change will be that this year’s rodeo will be held over two days — Saturday and Sunday — instead of the usual three. Markowitz said that is due to scheduling at the hall and that she plans to go back to three days in future years.
“If you look at what we sold in the past two years, we sold more tickets than what would fill up two shows,” Markowitz said. “So I think — not that I’m trying to say, ‘Buy your tickets’ — but I think people are going to have to buy their tickets pretty quickly.”
Boardwalk Hall’s capacity for the rodeo has been 8,696. The first year, the three-day attendance total was 17,685. Last year, it was 13,921.
Tickets will go on sale May 20, the day the event will be officially announced at a news conference at Boardwalk Hall.
Despite there being only two days of competition, the prize money will be the same, Markowitz said. Last year, it was about $94,000 total. There likely will be more “slack time” on Sunday morning — an extra round of competition that is not open to the public.
Stock contractor John Barnes, whose company, Barnes PRCA Rodeo, provides the livestock and organizes the competition, said he initially would have liked to come back at the same time of year. But he said he is warming up to the idea of a fall event.
“I guess I’m kind of like an old dog with teaching me new tricks, so I kind of liked the way we were,” Barnes said in a phone interview, “but apparently they might get some more community support in the fall and they have some good things planned.”
The PRCA’s 2014 season starts Oct. 1, so the Boardwalk Rodeo will be one of the first of next season. Barnes said it will be significant for cowboys to perform well to qualify for some of the bigger winter events.
“So far, Atlantic City hasn’t done us wrong and we haven’t done them wrong,” Barnes said, “so we’re looking forward to a new avenue.”
Contact Jason Mazda: