Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things – Craig Douglas
freely admits that he “didn’t know one end of a bull or a horse from the other” before he started Christchurch’s International Rodeo.
But he does know excitement and drama. He does know how to put on a show. He does know how to think big and make dreams realities. Craig, 38, is the man behind Douglas Webber Group, the event management team who created what is now New Zealand’s biggest indoor rodeo, which will run for its third year in November, in conjunction with New Zealand Cup and Show Week.
Craig came to rodeo after a spontaneous visit to the Waimate Rodeo. Until then he had been staging major motocross events. He had been racing in motocross events himself from the age of 12 and when he saw freestyle motocross
on television in USA, he decided he had to bring it to New Zealand. The rest, as they say, is history. The Crusty Demons of Dirt arrived in 2003 and since then Craig’s event management career has “taken off in all directions.”
“Anything I’ve ever done has been at the absolute edge of possibility,” he says
. “I thrive on a challenge and dumping 45,000 tonnes of dirt inside Christchurch’s $40-million Westpac Stadium was just the sort of challenge I love. I could see instantly that an indoor rodeo would be the perfect finale to the biggest agricultural event in the New Zealand.”
And finale it is – with all the elements of an 8-hour outdoor rodeo condensed into two action-packed indoor hours
featuring speed, big screen television, LPG-propelled fire jets and flame throwers, 144 head of stock, 32 daredevil cowboys from four countries and a whole ton of pre-show organisation. “We build a satellite city for 144 animals, a whole arena and everything that goes with it between 6am Friday and opening time 6pm Saturday. It’s fast-paced action from start to finish,” says Craig.
Photo Courtesy Christchurch City Council, NZ Cup and Show Week
The rodeo features four disciplines
– saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc, barrel racing (female only) and bullriding. And it’s a terrifying thrill a minute
when you pitch a 70kg man against a 1,000kg bucking bull. The crowd loves it and the 8,000 tickets sell fast. For Craig, the whole rodeo business has been a huge learning curve but he’s proud of the fact that his event is endorsed by the RSPCA and that people just keep coming. He also enjoys the people he works with. “The first thing I noticed about the cowboys was how well-presented and how down-to-earth and honest they are. They’re all incredibly professional. They’re people of the land
and a great bunch to work with.” www.rodeogp.co.nz www.nzcupandshow.co.nz