A rodeo clown waves to the crowd during the parade at the 2012 Fourth of July Independence Celebration. To his left is Ken Woolstenhulme, a former mayor of
A rodeo clown waves to the crowd during the parade at the 2012 Fourth of July Independence Celebration. To his left is Ken Woolstenhulme, a former mayor of Oakley.

For more than two decades, Wade Woolstenhulme has helped run the annual Oakley Rodeo. He knew it helped the community, but admittedly didn't know too much about it.

"Now, I know," said Woolstenhulme, now the mayor of the small town on the East side of Summit County. "It's the biggest part of our economic development."

For the thousands of attendees of the Fourth of July Independence Day Celebration, the annual tradition is all about the banquets, parades, and, not least, four nights of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sponsored events.

But for the rest of the year, until next summer, the proceeds and revenues from the rodeo bolster the city's bottom line.

Tami Stevenson, the city treasurer (as well as city planner and deputy recorder), said that last year, revenues from the rodeo brought in more than $413,000. Expenditures came in at more with $292,000, with the profits resulting in more than $121,000.

The money, Stevenson said, goes into the city's general fund, and helps on several fronts: it helps keep sewer fees and property taxes down by subsidizing residents' bills, while also paying off the debt of the city's jewel, the Oakley City Recreation Complex, the home of the rodeo as well as numerous other sports.

"Our rodeo is why we're able to have such a great facility," said Andy Woolstenhulme, the mayor's cousin and rodeo committee member. "We take a lot of pride in our event.


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Part of the reason why expenditures are kept relatively low is that "everyone volunteers" to put the rodeo on, Andy said.

"It doesn't happen without a lot of people's hard work," the mayor said. He likened the city spirit to President John F. Kennedy's famous quote, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

"It brings the community together," Stevenson said.

This year is the 79th annual celebration, and the community spirit is something that has been with the organizers since the beginning, Wade said. His father Ken, now in his 80s, has been with the rodeo for more than 60 years, his son said. "They've always put it back into the town," he said.

To buy tickets for this year's celebration, call 435-783-5753. For more information, visit the city's website, http://www.oakleycity.com/ .