'It's outstanding, especially with the drought'
DESPITE battling through rain and then soaring temperatures, this year's Warwick Rodeo and Gold Cup Campdraft has been heralded a great success.
Warwick Show and Rodeo Society president Gerard O'Leary said Saturday night's crowd was the biggest the team had seen.
"It's outstanding, it makes me so much happier especially with the season we've been through with the drought,” he said.
"It was quite strong early in the week because of the campdrafting, by the weekend it really built up.”
Mr O'Leary said the quality of the campdrafting and APRA National Finals rodeo were as high as he expected.
Warwick enjoyed some great success, with hometown riders Mitch and Wade Eastwell both winning buckles in the finals. "It's a great achievement for people, everyone wants to ride in Warwick because there's a lot of tradition there,” Mr O'Leary said.
Twelve months worth of preparation went into the event, which ran from Monday to Sunday last week.
Final numbers are still being tallied, but spectator numbers were expected to reach about 30,000 people.
There was a bit of fine tuning with the campdraft this year, with competitors limited to four horses for the Warwick Gold Cup and two for the Canning Downs Campdraft.
Mr O'Leary said the majority of competitors were accepting of the change.
"It had the desired effect, it was a fairer competition but the big names still come out on top,” he said.
New cattle yards were installed in time for the event, replacing wooden yards built in the 1960s with new metal rails and posts.
"It worked really well, handling the stock and the safety of the people worked really well,” Mr O'Leary said.
Mr O'Leary congratulated campdraft chairman Geoff Grant and rodeo chairman Peel Tribe for their work in bringing the successful events together.
But carrying off the week-long event was the combined effort of staff and volunteers, he said.
"The ones who run the canteen, the volunteers, they're just amazing with what they did,” Mr O'Leary said.
"I'd like to thank all the competitors and volunteers and particularly the public who support us every year.”
Mr O'Leary said he met visitors from as far as Newcastle and western New South Wales who had made the trip for the event.
Already a big week for the city, Mr O'Leary said the event could keep getting bigger in years to come.
The benefits aren't only reaped by the organisers, but extend into businesses around Warwick.
Mr O'Leary said the event gave business operators around town a boost.
"I think it's a great importance, I think it helps the economy, the (amount of) people you see through the week,” he said.
"People are shopping in the shops and sitting in the coffee shops.”
Businesses around Warwick were able to meet the demand of this year's event, with multiple accommodation businesses booked out at the weekend.
Freedom Lifestyle Caravan Park manager Cathy Aston said the park was full on both Friday and Saturday night, with about 250 sites booked for the nights.
Alongside Jumpers and Jazz in July, it's the busiest time of year for the caravan park, which is located on Wallace St, a couple of blocks away from the Warwick Showgrounds.
"It was really good because things have been quiet leading up to it with the cost of fuel and everything like that,” she said.
"It's extremely important, we're only a small park really so to get that sort of influx, it's really good, we need it.”