It’s a difficult tributary to navigate, that of community development. Attempting to balance the idea of providing economic enhancements for local programs with an event that will offer equal parts aid as well as fun is not for the faint of heart. Luckily, for towns like Amenia, NY, ambitious organizations like The Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization (AWCO) have taken up the mantle by partnering with proactive leaders like those with the Silo Ridge Community Foundation to marry those ideas and bring events like the recent Hudson Valley Rodeo to life. Though still in its infancy, the AWCO has worked hard to provide resources to support the work of qualified nonprofit community organizations serving the Amenia-Wassaic area. It is through these partnerships with local organizations, that the AWCO will go on to establish and support parks, trails, town improvements, public spaces, and community programs for residents—a critical effort in a time of uncertain means.
For its part, the Silo Ridge Community Foundation has recognized the imperative need for organizations like the AWCO and has begun utilizing its impressive resources to hold events that attract visitors from far and wide for such an endearing cause. Hence, the first annual Hudson Valley Rodeo supported by the Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization and sponsored in part by Silo Ridge Community Foundation. The event, held on October 2 at Keane Stud in Amenia, was a massive success for both the community as well for those looking for an exciting evening to cap off an undeniably stressful year. The rodeo was topped off with an evening concert that featured country music star Chris Janson, along with special guest Ian Flanigan. All net proceeds from the event benefited the Amenia-Wassaic Community Organization and its programs.
After the first of what is slated to become an annual event in the picturesque area of northern Dutchess County, we sat down with event organizer Juan Torres, partner with Silo Ridge Ventures, to reflect on the celebrated evening, his work within the community, and what may be on the horizon for the hopeful residents of Amenia and Wassaic.
Nearly one month removed from the rodeo, how are you feeling about the event overall? Have you had time to digest its success?
We think it went phenomenally, we are extremely happy with how the event was planned and executed. I think the biggest thing about this event, other than raising funds for the AWCO, was getting more hands-on with the community. Seeing how all of the collaborators got together to put something like this on for residents and visitors, it shows how amazing things can happen in our area.
How did Silo Ridge’s involvement with the AWCO come about? What brought everyone together?
There are a lot of people locally who are doing some incredible things. Those organizations include the Maplebrook School, The Wassaic Project, Four Brothers, the Food For Life Pantry, the Amenia Lions Club as well as both local fire departments in Wassaic and Amenia. We have been helping around town with local organizations for awhile but felt more could be done especially in Amenia and Wassaic. As a result, there are a lot of like-minded folks with a particular goal who want to do good. Talking with these leaders, we thought it was the time to sit down together and discuss doing more. So we formed the Amenia Wassaic Community Organization and through this partnership, we are able to help find and raise resources to promote community services, art, education, health and conservation. More importantly, we work so that the funds raised from events like the Hudson Valley Rodeo go directly back into these two townships. This summer, we put together a summer camp with Maplebrook and worked with the Amenia Lions Club to sponsor their Hometown Hero banners. We are also planning on working during the holidays this year to help support lighting, turkey drives and the Adopt a Family program. The rodeo represents the heart of these initiatives while allowing us to think outside the box, we thought we could put something together that was family oriented, and not too expensive while also making sure we could have a ton of people.
How much was raised? Did the funds meet the threshold in your mind for a first-year success?
The event was a huge, sold out success. This first year was about our community and establishing a positive community day event. The key to the Rodeo’s success was the massive local collaboration involved: from Marylin Moore to Four Brothers, Willbrook Farm and the fire departments all working together for a great day. With time, we will grow and raise more funds to continue to support the community in a bigger way. Thanks to the all the donations and continued support, the AWCO has helped sponsor in 2021 the Maplebrook Summer Program, the Hometown Hero banners, the Hudson Valley Rodeo, the Wassaic Project and the Northeastern Community Center. It will continue to sponsor the Town Christmas lighting, turkey drives, Food for Life Pantry, and Adopt a Family these holidays. We are excited to continue to work to make Amenia a vibrant town.
You mentioned making the rodeo an annual event. Anything different in the works for next year?
I think the rodeo is a fantastic event. When combined with the concert, the rodeo makes for a perfect fit for an annual idea. Ultimately, the goal is to raise funds for the community, and based on this year’s success, it seems natural moving forward.
How important is it for you to have a direct impact on the community in which you live? How important are local organizations/businesses to that extent?
It’s huge. We have been involved in the community for decades and moreover we have helped an incredible amount of local organizations for a long time. We felt more could be hyper-focused on Amenia and Wassaic. Amenia is composed of tremendous leaders who work together to do amazing things. In the future we will work hard to create a more vibrant quality of life for the folks in Ameina and Wassaic.
For more information on the AWCO, visit ameniawassaic.org
Check out the Hudson Valley Rodeo on the web at hudsonvalleyrodeo.com