Gay rodeo organization elects new leadership

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As members of the Liberty Gay Rodeo Association look eagerly toward the warmer weather and this summer’s second annual Stampede, the organization now has several new leaders who are committed to seeing that the group has another successful ride this year.

Last month, LGRA members elected several new leaders: Jeff Bolognese as president; Steve Oliver as vice president; Chris Maurizio as secretary/volunteer coordinator; James Erhart as treasurer; Stephen J. Watrobski as newsletter chairperson; and John J. Stypa as Webmaster.

Also late last month, the organization announced that its 2009 Stampede will kick off July 31 and run through Aug. 2. The location of the rodeo should be determined in the next few weeks.

Although the stampede is still more than six months away, the organization’s new officers are concentrating their efforts to make this year’s event even more successful than last year’s.

“We’re pretty excited about putting on our second rodeo here in the Philadelphia area,” Oliver said. “I personally believe in the country lifestyle and trying to bring that here to Philadelphia to provide a venue for folks and help them to understand what the rodeo’s all about.”

Oliver has been involved with LGRA since 2007 and previously served as the sponsorship chair, a position that allowed him to garner sponsors and advertisers for last year’s rodeo. Oliver has also spearheaded the public-relations and fundraising efforts of the organization.

He noted that one of his main goals for the LGRA is to heighten the level of support the organization can provide to local nonprofits through this year’s Stampede.

“What we’re truly about is providing support for our charity partners,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were just able to break even with the work we did last year, so we didn’t have anything left over to support our charities, but this year with more efficiency built in and a more stringent budget, we’re looking to expand that.”

LGRA has not yet announced the charity partners for this year’s Stampede.

Although Bolognese was just officially elected president last month, he’s had several months to ease into the role, as the former LGRA vice president took over in an interim role when former president Jennifer Vrana stepped down in July.

Bolognese, who’s been an LGRA member for about three years, said that one of his top priorities will be to increase the organization’s membership base.

“We’re all set on trying to grow the organization and be more in touch with all of our members to bring even more people together,” he said.

Bolognese noted that the LGRA provides numerous social opportunities for members of the local LGBT community to get to know one another away from the club or bar environments.

“I think a lot of the enjoyment of the group is getting to know so many different people and being a part of something that is bringing people together outside of the typical scene of were you meet people,” he said.

Now that the new officers are settling into the positions, Bolognese said they’ll be devoting most of their time to ensuring that the LGRA Stampede again successfully unites gay rodeo enthusiasts from across the country.

“We’re attempting to get things going now that the holidays are over and we’re looking forward to going full steam ahead.”

For more information on the LGRA, visit www.libertygra.org

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].