The two-day annual Rupununi Rodeo continues today at the Rodeo Ground in Lethem, Region Nine with 'The greasy pig', watermelon eating and several drinking competitions. These follow the first evening of activities which saw cowboys and cowgirls riding wild horses and bulls in their bid to win.
Being hosted for the first time after two years of lockdown, citizens from across Guyana and neighbouring Brazil travelled to Lethem for the weekend of excitement including President Irfaan Ali, Ministers of Tourism, Amerindian Affairs; Local Government and Regional Development and others.
The President, in his address at the event on Saturday, noted that making Rupununi and Region Nine a staple in the Tourism menu requires investment. He spoke of the partnership with neighbouring Brazil to develop infrastructure into and in the region.
Speaking about building a highway into Lethem, he said "we have a huge neighbour next to us and when we combine our efforts with Brazil, this event has the power to be a global power in the tourism business."
Already, Brazil and Guyana share a Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Agreement, the International Road Transport Agreement for the movement of passengers and goods between Guyana and Brazil, the Partial Scope Agreement on trade, and ongoing cooperation regarding the Linden-Lethem Road.
The 2022 Rodeo event saw a major participation from Brazilian craft vendors, cowboys, rodeo clowns and other individuals who crossed the border to ply their trade. The games provided at the event included the famous Ferris Wheel, bull riding and those that were made available by Brazilians.
"We intend to build this event to be the best," the President said.
The event was also addressed by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond who called for more investments in the tourism and hospitality sector in the region.
Many patrons hoping to travel to the region for this year's Rodeo were unable to book flights or a place to stay while in Lethem. The Minister said "we know that it has been extremely difficult to secure rooms and airlines had been filled. Seeing this type of support for the Rodeo is tremendously heartening…with the enthusiasm shown, I am convinced next year will be bigger."
"The predicted growth should inspire confidence for more people to invest in quality accommodation and service to meet the rapidly increasing demand. More people would've been here if they were able to secure accommodation and it's therefore imperative that we pay serious attention to this and we look at the bigger picture and we project to a brighter future," Minister Walrond said.
This year’s Rodeo also received $1M of support from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
Subject Minister Pauline Sukhai noted that Rodeo is more than an activity for the people of Rupununi but a way of life. She said efforts will be placed on ensuring that the region is a part of the Government's bigger plans for agriculture and tourism.
The event was also addressed by the Regional Vice Chairman Bertie Xavier and the Mayor of Lethem, John Macedo who welcomed the level of normalcy being restored after the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Rupununi Rodeo is a major economic activity for the region.
All requirements for masks and sanitisers were relaxed at the event attended by hundreds.