The Folsom Pro Rodeo has come and gone and what an amazing community event it was this year, and I do not use the word “community” lightly when I say that. To be clear, this column isn’t so much about the rodeo as it is the community that it brings together, something I experienced personally this past week

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Before we get into the sappy stuff here, I want to give a huge tip of the hat to the entire staff of Choose Folsom, also known as the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, for their hard work in putting this event on each year and 2023. In my eyes it was one of the best ones I have been to and been involved with in the last decade.

Those of you that know me, know that this wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been involved with this event for many years now, most of which were spent as a journalist/publisher covering the event prior to its arrival, during its time in town and through its departure each year.  Those tasks didn’t change for 2023, they just took place in a new and improved fashion with the birth and success of FolsomTimes.com and All Town Media LLC.

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Again, most in this city that know me are well aware that my previous role in the local news circle took a nose dive back in January when an out of the country buyout of the family-owned company I worked for eventually resulted in significant changes, including a series of cutbacks, better known as reductions in workforce, one of which I was a casualty of. However, some things get worse before they get better in life and I will get to that shortly here.

At the time it all occurred, I took it as part of God’s plan to take a new career direction. I was already amidst the steps to acquire a California State Real Estate license, something I began prior to the life changes, due to the combination of a personal interest in the field of work as well as longtime observation that the newspaper industry was rapidly declining, you didn’t have to have 20/20 vision to see that.

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In 2022 alone, 2,514 weekly publications across the United States either shut their doors or merged with others and many that have survived the industry challenges were drastically reducing their production and having to do more with less each and every day. In many cases, these closures have created what is known as news deserts in some communities, leaving entire towns without a viable locally operated new resource in their communities. 

While it was something I was saddened to see, I knew what the present held and what the future was likely going to hold, Simply put, it was time for a change that would include more time with family and far less stress and uncertainty and my interest in real estate seemed to be a good place to start.

Fast forward a bit to a few days after my departure as several members of the Folsom community reached out to me. While each of those calls were sympathetic in nature, they all had a general desire to make sure I remained a part of this community, some of them were insistent to make sure of that, from business owners to city leaders and everything in between. It was all pretty heartwarming and surreal to say the least. 

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So, this is where the birth of Folsom Times comes in. Longtime Folsom resident Adam Frick and I had been friends for many years and worked together on various community events as well.  Known for his local success Folsom TV and other tech entities,  Adam is an extremely skilled software developer. To make a long story short, while he was bummed to see the situation that arose in my world, he saw it as an opportunity for the two of us to do something together using our combined skills to benefit this community that has been so good to each of us for many years.  So, we got to work and Folsom Times quickly rose from what I thought was ashes of a lifelong career in an industry I loved in a community I loved.

For the last several months, both of us have been what you could call volunteer CEO’s, as we tested the community with our product to see if the response would sustain the concept far into the future. 

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I never imagined we would go from virtually zero to the point of having 15,000 average page views a day and nearly 400,000 per month in less than six-months.   This community spoke loud and clear, not only the readers but now the advertisers that will ultimately power the ship going forward and help us safely say, we are here to stay Folsom and look to grow not only in readership but grow in other ways as well with the advertising support of the community. We will be adding many new features ahead as well as expanding our staff, bringing you more daily local content including more video and interactive features and community resources.

With the support of a partnership with Choose Folsom and the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, the Folsom Pro Rodeo soon became a big part of this endeavor. We were welcomed as a Gold Sponsor, we were welcomed as accredited media source and most importantly, welcomed as what feels like being a true member of the family in this wonderful community.

After working the first two nights of the rodeo, on the third and final night I had the pleasure of just attending the event as a guest with my wife Cynthia who was also asked to perform the National Anthem that night. She is currently living her own dream as a signed recording artist with a Nashville record label, but to be asked to sing the anthem at the rodeo in the town you’ve lived for many years was truly special, and all of this took place on my birthday weekend to top it off.  I guess good things do come with age!

From the moment we walked into that arena to the moment we left I can’t even find all the words to describe how it felt to be so welcomed and embraced by members of this great community. I don’t remember the last time that many people came up to me with a hug or handshake and words of support. 

In fact, to be honest, I didn’t know how many people even knew who I was around here, it’s not like I am a charismatic jeweler named Adrian or anything. I’ve always been more of a behind the lens guy.

For many years I have heard how the Folsom Pro Rodeo can bring out unique emotions and make special, lifelong memories for folks. At the same time, I have long heard how this community comes together in support of one another, whether it be a time of need or a time when support is needed for a new path toward success.  I’m pretty sure I felt both hitting me all at the same time. These days,  I know what it’s like to feel that Folsom love others have told me about for years.

To do what we do in this business, you have to be in the community you serve, you have to be engaged in that community and care about your work to earn the trust of the community. This goes for just about anyone who owns or operates a business.  I learned it from my late father who operated in a very successful grocery story in Placerville near the small town where I grew up. He always told me how it was important for him to be part of there community and they would always be there to support him when it was needed. 

When my world seemed like it may be crashing down earlier this year. I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity for a new way to serve my community and find success in doing so. I think Dad’s got to be pretty happy his advice was well taken and I’m pretty certain he may have had a hand in all these stars aligning.

Folsom is the furthest I have ever gotten from that small town, and today it’s the furthest I ever want to be as there is no other community I want to be part of. I know that sounds like an old John Mellencamp song but the fact is, Folsom is likely, “where they’ll bury me,” some day, and that’s, “good enough for me.”

Sometimes it takes a misfortune to present you with the opportunity to realize just how fortunate you really are and my fortune is right here in this amazing community that has everything to offer, including a good old fashioned rodeo that helps you see all of this great stuff and the place in town…where everybody knows your name!

Bill Sullivan is the co-founder of Folsom Times, an All Town Media LLC online publication. You can reach him at bill@folsomtimes.com.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan