“When you change, it takes a while for others to get on board,” says Randy Fajnor of the Taber Pro Rodeo committee.
For more than 25 years, the three-day rodeo in southeastern Alberta was held during the month of May. In 2008, the committee changed the date, a move that had some repercussions, mainly on the number of contestants showing up to compete. But those numbers are starting to climb once more and Fajnor couldn’t be happier, especially with the latest installment starting July 15.
“Everything has gone up, compared to last year,” he beams, adding that the rodeo has now also moved outdoors, a change he thinks that contestants and fans alike will enjoy.
“It’s a little bit funner,” he nods, adding that in spite of that, the main highlight this year will be a little less forward thinking, and more of a look to the past.
Former committee member and rodeo athlete DC Lund will be presented the Ranchman’s Legendary Achievement Award during the opening ceremonies on July 17. 2010 Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee Phil Doan will be on site to present the award to Lund on behalf of Ranchman’s.
“We’re looking forward to that,” Fajnor smiles. “What it means to the committee is you know for sure that there’s going to be quite a few more fans there that know him, because he’s well known in the community, and he was on the rodeo committee for years before, so it’s real nice for us to have the opportunity to give him tribute like that.”
In northern Alberta, kicking off July 17, is the Harmon Valley Pro Rodeo in Peace River. The two-person committee of Doug Hogbin and Ken Gour have been working hard getting everything ready for the event.
“Ready or not. I think I’m 99 per cent ready,” Gour jokes.
Like Fajnor in Taber, Gour has also been watching their numbers climb.
“This is our third year and one thing we’ve found is that, during our first year, we had roughly 140 contestant. The second year we had roughly 180. And this year we’re at 230,” he estimates. “It’s looking promising.”
Of course, when the rodeo draws near each year, the committee enlists the help of Hogbin’s wife, Jean, and a small army of volunteers for the big stuff, like when they recently made some improvements to the grounds.
“We put together a group of volunteers to help paint,” Gour says. “And we changed all the old wood in the corral, close to 400 feet. Our outside rail was all wood, so we changed it all to a nice solid pipe, made it another foot higher, and got it all painted up for the rodeo. So that was a lot of work!”
The folks at nearby Teepee Creek have also been doing a little construction to get ready for the Teepee Creek Stampede on July 17 and 18.
“We try to do a few projects every year,” says committee president Mack Erno. “We’ve been putting in some new bathrooms and doing some work to the track and infield, some new fences, just trying to keep up on things.”
“We want to keep growing and we can’t keep growing without better infrastructure,” adds secretary Lacey Stark.
They’ve also taken some bold steps in upping their advertising and marketing.
“We have a set up at the airport; we’ve done brochures,” Stark reveals.
According to Stark, “We had a really nice weekend last year and a very successful rodeo and we still didn’t really make any money, so we thought, rather than trying to cut budgets we’d ramp up the marketing and hopefully get some more people through the gates.”
They’re hoping to see 1,000 to 2,000 more rodeo fans through the gates this year to help celebrate 94 years.
“Every year is a celebration when you’re this old, at least that’s what they tell me,” Erno chuckles.
Kidding aside, “Years and years of blood, sweat and tears have gone into the rodeo,” Erno says. “It’s a real community event and there are a lot of tireless hours by volunteers that have gotten it to where it is.”
Please visit rodeocanada.com for more detailed event information.
The information within this release is provided as a courtesy by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.