ENNIS — The Fourth of July festivities are back in Ennis and the NRA rodeo kicked it all off on Saturday night.
“It brings joy back into your life," said resident Gretchen Furlong about seeing people return to the town after COVID-19. "I mean seriously, after being cooped up for the last year and not having anybody come through, it was a little desolate. Now it’s fun. It’s lively. Life is back.”
Despite the shutdown impacting the small tourist town last year, it wasn’t impacted as much as one would think. The 2020 rodeo still happened, albeit with minimal fans.
“We had a great influx of tourists and visitors later in September," said Marshall Bettendorf, the executive director of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce. "Our fall was really busy. Economically we did much better than everybody thought. That was super. It was a tough year for us, the country, the world, but Ennis did really well.”
On Saturday night, residents got to proudly display their town once again for one of the biggest events of the year, the rodeo.
“It is great fun and it gets a chance to show off our cowboy heritage and what Ennis is all about," Bettendorf said.
Tourists are coming from all over for this year’s Fourth of July weekend in Ennis to take in the parade and rodeo.
“We’re very lucky here in town and we got people from all over the country," said Bettendorf. "We even had some visitors from out of the country yesterday. It’s really cool to see.”
Businesses are more than ready for customers to bring in foot traffic once again, but it’s also nice to just see people.
“Well it’s been a little overwhelming, but in a good way," said Furlong, who owns Saddles & Co. "People seem happy and they seem like they really want to be out of the house. They’re enjoying their vacation which is good to see. As you just saw, it’s in and out, non-stop flowing traffic. It’s great and it’s fun.”
Bettendorf is hoping for at least a return to 2019 numbers in regards to revenue, but he has a feeling income could be 10% more.
“By the looks of it, 2021 is going to be huge," he said. "(It will) be a great influx of cash for our businesses, which is really important. Hopefully people will come here -- maybe for the first time, have a great day and make another visit.”