Let the penning begin! The Calgary Stampede’s Team Cattle Penning Competition, presented by Calfrac Well Services, is underway. The Stampede announces that this year’s edition, during the Stampede’s Centennial celebrations, has attracted a whopping 777 teams from across the continent — with an estimated total prize purse of $400,000 and a dozen Centennial Trophy Saddles up for grabs.
The Stampede interviewed Joel and Jordan Lesh, out of Oklahoma and mention they have been coming up to Calgary since 2006, and have been duly rewarded at The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Joel has been part of the Stampede’s Open Class championship trio in two of the past three years, while Jordan was part of last year’s Open title with his big brother and won a 10 Class crown in 2009.
Joel has also captured four United States Team Penning Association (USTPA) titles — validation for the estimated 160,000 kilometres he and Jordan put on the odometer together each year to saddle up in 45 to 50 competitions across North America.
“It’s the excitement, the adrenalin rush. Team penning is a fast-paced sport — you’re moving, you’re thinking on the go,” he says. “There’s a competitive edge that a lot of sports don’t always keep up with. It’s a timed event, not judged, so you have to make up for your mistakes, and fix them, within the time limit, or you get a no-time hung on you.”
It all starts with two days of preliminaries at the Okotoks Agricultural Society, at Okotoks, Alta., on Wednesday, July 4 and Thursday, July 5. The Stampede says there are — 72 in the Open Class, 135 in the 14 Class, 297 in the 10 Class, and 273 in the 7 Class — it will be only those who will survive these rounds, that will make their way to the lights of the Scotiabank Saddledome. For four straight nights, starting at 5:30 p.m., the Team Cattle Penning Competition will take over the Saddledome — the 14 Class on Friday, July 6; the 10 Class on Saturday, July 7; the Open Class on Sunday, July 8; and the 7 Class on Monday, July 9 — with the best 20 teams competing in the third round, and the 10-team final immediately to follow.
At Calgary, there will be teams entered in the number 7 Class to 10 Class to 14 Class to the professionals of the Open Class.