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( Archives/1981/07/JUL 17.pdf) The rodeo that year drew 10,000 people; in 1982, when comedienne Joan Rivers served as grand marshal, more than 20,000 attended, despite ongoing anti-gay protests.
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In 1987 the Comstock Gay Rodeo Association reconstituted itself as the Silver State Gay Rodeo Association [SSGRA], took a seat in the IGRA, and planned the 1988 International Finals Rodeo for Reno on October 21-23.
The effort to bring the rodeo back into Reno, however, failed, when the Lawlor Events Center at the University of Nevada, Reno reneged on its contract with the SSGRA, and the rodeo organization was unable to find a friendly venue anywhere else in the region.
The Commission admitted it couldn’t do anything to stop the rodeo, and the event went on as planned—but the attendance was greatly diminished from previous years: just 12,000, when rodeo organizers had predicted 55,000.
Anonymous telephone calls to Reno’s three main television stations warned that snipers were poised to shoot rodeo-goers. The gay community was exhausted from fighting the AIDS epidemic as well as the religious and political backlash.
The auction managers referred Ragsdale to a local rancher who provided the animals and Ragsdale drove back to Reno at 10 o'clock the night before the rodeo was scheduled.