Time to saddle up for virtually the best event in Australia!

In what's believed to be a world first, the largest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere will be staged as a 'virtual rodeo' as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the famous red dirt arena off limits to thousands of rodeo fans, Mount Isa Mines Rodeo Chief Executive Officer Natalie Flecker has announced that a virtual 2020 Mount Isa Mines Rodeo will be broadcast to the world on 8 August this year, the event's scheduled date pre COVID-19.

Natalie says Isa Rodeo nominations were called for 19 events, including Open, 2nd Division, Junior and Novelty events in both the rough stock (bull riding, bareback riding, saddlebronc riding) and timed events (steer wrestling, rope and tie, team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping).

"Australian and International competitors are invited to send in their best ride from the past two years (2018-2019) and the videos will be judged by our official Isa Rodeo judges," says Natalie.

"We're going create a live stream broadcast of the event so that thousands of rodeo fans will (almost) feel like they're at our amazing event."

Naming rights and foundation sponsor Mount Isa Mines is back in the saddle to ensure the virtual event is a success for the iconic rodeo.

Maryann Wipaki, General Manager for Health, Safety, Environment and Community for Glencore's Mount Isa Mines said the pandemic has inspired innovation and imagination, and thanks to technology, we continue to showcase the can-do spirit of rodeo.

"While we can't underestimate the effects the pandemic is having on our communities, we hope the Virtual Mount Isa Mines Rodeo in August provides entertainment and benefit for the competitors and our community that otherwise would have been missed," says Maryann.

The virtual Isa Rodeo would not be possible without the support of the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland, long-time naming rights sponsor Mount Isa Mines and loyal sponsors like Bell & Moir Toyota who have been with the event since its inception in 1959 says Natalie.

"It is absolutely incredible to have this support in a year that has been a huge challenge for everyone across the board, from sponsor businesses to our rodeo competitors without whom this event would not be possible.

"We hope it captures the imagination of our cowboys and cowgirls, who are fiercely competitive and passionate about their sport – and to our rodeo audience who would normally make the trip to Mount Isa to enjoy everything that the Isa Rodeo week has to offer.

"As a free virtual event, we hope it will reach thousands more who are interested in rodeo, and who will get to see what the fuss is about," says Natalie.