BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
The city of Kuna has pulled the plug on its rodeo due to city staff receiving death threats.
The commotion began last week after announcements were made that the city and the Crooked 8 were parting ways and forming two competing rodeos, as previously reported by the Idaho Press.
After a week of being barraged by angry emails, chaotic social media threads and citizens coming to city council meetings upset and seeking answers, Mayor Joe Stear said the threats were the tipping point. The cancellation was announced Tuesday.
“I don't even know how to say anything about folks that want to make death threats over a rodeo. I don't even really know how to respond to that,” Stear told the Idaho Press. “When it gets to that point, I'm just not willing to put my staff out there for that kind of abuse.”
Crooked 8, a privately owned farm and concert venue, hosted Kuna's first rodeo in decades last year.
But the city, citing a desire to find a permanent, city-owned venue that could be used as a larger multi-use event space, announced that it would be taking the rodeo's reins.
It came as a shock to Crooked 8's owners, Lini and Cody Chytka, who said they invested more than $200,000 to make their venue rodeo-ready.
Lini Chytka said she and the newly formed Kuna Stampede rodeo do not condone this violence.
“It is completely unacceptable,” Lini Chytka said. “That’s not the horseman way … we’re stewards of the land, we’re stewards of the animals and we’re stewards of our relationships.”
Lini Chytka said she and the Stampede are sorry this happened to city staff, but are still planning to go “full steam ahead” on their rodeo.
The Ada County Sheriff's Office was able to confirm one threat that was received via text message. When the officers went to trace it, they found it was from a Voice over Internet Protocol number and therefore couldn't be tracked.
"It’s unfortunate that something like a rodeo dispute could generate such enmity. That type of behavior is atypical for the city of Kuna and hopefully it won’t come up again," ACSO Public Information Officer Patrick Orr said.
The city’s rodeo being canceled has also caused a setback in some of its future goals of having an events facility and recreation center. Stear said the city had been trying to come up with creative ways to get funding, and it will continue to do so.
“Our intent has always been to come up with some kind of facility because we don't have a recreation center,” Stear said. “And the only way we're ever going to get a recreation center is if we bond for, I don't know, $30 or $40 million. And with property taxes like they are, that's just not feasible for folks, right now.”
The mayor said a big mistake made last year was that he doesn’t know if the city’s intention to build a recreation facility and event center was ever relayed to the Chytkas.
But regardless of what led to the communication breakdown and the two competing rodeos, Stear said the resulting threats are not OK.
“I just don't know, don't understand, how it got out of hand like it did,” Stear said.
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.
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