Rodeos This Weekend

It’s business as usual in Lea Park, Alta., as the 56th annual Lea Park Rodeo gets ready to run June 11-13, with one small exception. Although it’s not something that would easily be recognized by the average spectator, it sure means a heck of a lot to a number of budding rodeo athletes and those intent on building a better future for rodeo.

The Lea Park Rodeo is the second stop in the newly formed Calgary Stampede Novice Tour. The Calgary Stampede has committed to covering entry fees for all competing contestants in the novice saddle bronc, novice bareback and steer riding for six rodeos, and has added prize money to each of those events at all six tour rodeos.

“We’re only one of a few that (The Calgary Stampede) is not the main contractor for where they’re doing it at, and we feel pretty privileged,” says Lloyd Gray, secretary for the Lea Park Rodeo.

“My hat is off to Calgary for doing this. It’s great. This is where our future cowboys are coming from,” he adds. “If these guys all end up being pro cowboys and taking their pro card out, it’s that much better.”

Gray respects the effort that went into making the tour happen. As a committee member, he knows all about hard work.

“Most people don’t have a clue what it takes to put on a rodeo. For example, we’ll start planning for next year’s right after this rodeo, taking into account what went wrong at this one, what went right, what can we change. It’s a meeting a month, and then within three months of rodeo time there’s a meeting every week. And then this whole week has been just rodeo,” he reveals.

“It’s a lot of work. You have so many little details to put together right from portable washrooms to the ambulance to parking. The list just never quits,” he chuckles.

But he’s been at it for 30 years, and “I quite enjoy it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. It’s hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun, and she’s a really good thing for the community.”

The folks over in Rocky Mountain House, Alta. also know a thing or two about community. According to Rocky Pro Rodeo Arena Director Lorrie McMeekin, the committee selects a cause each year to do a fundraiser for.

“The rodeo is a community effort, and it’s something we do to put back into the community,” he explains.

This year, the local women’s shelter is in the spotlight after Saturday’s rodeo performance.

“It is called Walk a Mile in My Shoes and there are going to be a bunch of townspeople and rodeo board members and cowboys walking in high heels. They were talking about barrel racing, but I don’t know how you’re going to run around barrels in high heels in this stuff,” he laughs, referring to rain the county has had over the past two weeks.

Over at Brooks, Alta. where the Kinsmen Pro Rodeo is marking their 50th anniversary on June 11 and 12, the grounds are also a bit muddy, but with a province-wide forecast for sunny weather, Clint Hammel is looking forward to the milestone celebrations.

“Calgary Stampede is coming down and they’re doing some grand entry stuff, and we’ve got a different fireworks show,” the committee member says.

“With the economy being kind of lame, we didn’t want to get too goofy in case we got rain. But overall, it should be great rodeo.”

Brooks will be celebrating at their new grounds, as well, and Hammel is confident that rodeo fans will enjoy them as much as the contestants.

“We’ve got a lot of local competitors around here that came and gave us their input, like to design things,” he says, adding, “So come out and see our new grounds!”

~ Courtesy Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

Wildwood Bronc Bustin’ and Handhills Lake Stampede

Cowboy Rod Hay

Not only did Rod Hay get to spend a rare weekend at home in the thick of the Canadian pro rodeo season, he took top honours at his hometown rodeo event: the 7th annual Wildwood Bronc Bustin.’

“It was probably the toughest bronc riding we’ve had,” Hay said, referring to both the cowboy competition and the stock.

“It always feels good to come out on top of that,” he noted shortly after the final round in Wildwood, Alta., during which he rode Franklin Rodeo’s Blue Too for 87 points.

Hay placed in both the first and second go-rounds during the June 5 performance, finishing fifth in the average with 156 points before heading into the finals, earning a weekend total of $3,388. The win also bumps him from 10th place in the Canadian saddle bronc standings to fourth. He’s currently ranked first in the World standings.

But it’s not just the win that makes this one special for Hay. He’s also a member of the committee out in Wildwood, a position he gladly finds the time for in his busy rodeo schedule.

“The people on the committee are so good and we’ve had so much help from the sponsors that have been behind us. It’s made it a lot of fun,” he said.

“And it’s been pretty interesting for me,” added the eight-time Canadian champion. “I’ve been rodeoing all these years, going down the road, and I never really knew what all happened behind the scenes, so it’s really cool to get behind the scenes and do one from the ground up. There are a lot of different things that go on. It’s a lot of work and there are a lot of things you’ve got to pay attention to that you kind of take for granted when you’re just cowboying and heading down the road in your pickup truck.”

Unofficial Weekend Winners:

EDITOR’S NOTE: These results have not been processed and are subject to change.

Handhills Lake Stampede, Hand Hills, AB
Saddle Bronc: Dustin Flundra (Pincher Creek, AB), 82, $995; Bareback: Monty Koopman (North Battleford, SK), 82, $940; Bull Riding: Scott Schiffner (Strathmore, AB), 87.5, $900; Tie-Down Roping: Alwin Bouchard (Scandia, AB), 8.3, $1,268; Steer Wrestling: Todd Woodward (Lethbridge, AB) and Tyrel Miller (Wainwright, AB), 4.1, $1,288; Ladies Barrel Racing: Elaina Black (Kamloops, BC), 16.07, $988; Team Roping: Steele DePaoli (Longview, AB) and Don DePaoli (Longview, AB), 4.6, $2,312; Novice Saddle Bronc: Wyatt Thurston (Big Valley, AB), 71.0, $427; Novice Bareback: Clint Laye (Cadogan, AB), 73.5, $318; Steer Riding: Austin Nash (Sangudo, AB), 75, $349

Wildwood Bronc Bustin’, Wildwood, AB
Saddle Bronc 1st Performance: Billy Richards (Crossfield, AB), 82, $1,210; Saddle Bronc 2nd Performance, 1st Go: Chet Johnson (Gillette, WY), 88, $1,160; Saddle Bronc 2nd Performance, 2nd Go: Kyle Thomson (Black Diamond, AB), 82, $1,169; Saddle Bronc 2nd Performance, Finals: Rod Hay (Wildwood, AB), 87, $3,201; Novice Saddle Bronc: Royden Griffith (Hanna, AB), 80.5, $396; Steer Riding: Greyden Eiserman (Maple Creek, AB), 77, $359

~ courtesy of  the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

One for the Records

Records were made to be broken, and that seemed to be the order of business at the Grande Prairie Stompede, the first rodeo stop of the Wrangler Canadian Professional Rodeo Tour.

Like a domino effect of record-breaking proportions, Rana Koopmans got the tidal wave rolling, clocking in a thunderous 14.99 seconds in the ladies barrel racing slack performance on May 26. Still, the Lethbridge, Alta. cowgirl wasn’t sure the time would hold up over the next four days.

Rana Koopmans

“I didn’t know if it would last throughout the week,” she said of her time. “There were a lot of tough girls.”

But in the end, she had secured the win, with the next closest being a 15.17-second run by Calgary, Alta.’s Lauren Chad. Koopmans was thrilled to take home the first place cheque of $3,276, and gladly sees it as a major step towards the Tour Finals in Armstrong, B.C. this fall. Having that winning run break an arena record just adds to the experience.

“It’s really exciting that it’s a Tour rodeo. It’s a good boost for my overall goal to CFR (Canadian Finals Rodeo) and hopefully being able go to Armstrong at the end of the year. I love the Armstrong rodeo. I hope I can make the Tour Finals because it’s got to be one of my favourite rodeos.”

Saddle bronc rider Luke Butterfield (Ponoka, Alta.) is also well on his way to Armstrong after he broke another arena record. The cowboy wrapped up an 89-point ride aboard Outlawbuckers’ Blue Eyed Trapper for $3,429. He was excited, not only to have broken a record, but to have reached a personal best.

“That’s the highest I’ve ever been, so it’s pretty neat. I think my highest score was at Armstrong last year, an 86 or an 87. And for it to happen at a big rodeo, too,” he said, with a grin in his voice. “I don’t rodeo to break arena records, but it’s cool if you can do it.

“It was a good boost,” he added. “It helps my confidence big time.”

Dusty LaValley

For two-time Canadian bareback champion Dusty LaValley, an 88-point ride atop Outlawbuckers’ Royal Trapper tied the Stompede’s current arena record, originally marked by Cimmaron Gerke (Brighton, Co.) in 2007.

“It was pretty good. The horse was quite strong. It was all I could do to stay there, and he actually threw me down right after the whistle,” recalled the Bezanson, Alta. cowboy.

According to LaValley, the record tying score is nice, but it “doesn’t really make a difference” in the big scheme of his season. “The biggest thing is it’s my hometown rodeo. It was cool to tie the record at my hometown rodeo,” he smiled.

Unofficial Weekend Winners:

EDITOR’S NOTE: These results have not been processed and are subject to change.

Grande Prairie Stompede, Grande Prairie, AB

Saddle Bronc: Luke Butterfield (Ponoka, AB), 89, $3,429; Bareback: Dusty LaValley (Bezanson, AB), 88, $2,854; Bull Riding: Ty Pozzobon (Merritt, BC), 87, $3,531; Tie-Down Roping: Jake Hannum (Ogden, UT), 7.0, $2,612; Steer Wrestling: Tyrel Miller (Wainwright, AB), 4.0, $3,058; Ladies Barrel Racing: Rana Koopmans (Lethbridge, AB), 14.99, $3,274; Team Roping: Clint Maddox (Eckville, AB) and Jeff Quam (Airdrie, AB), 6.0, $3,133; Novice Saddle Bronc: Chad Thompson (Black Diamond, AB), 74.0, $477; Novice Bareback: Cole Jamieson (Innisfail, AB), 72, $377; Steer Riding: Bryce West (Cadogan, AB), 78, $369

Bonnyville Pro Rodeo, Bonnyville, AB

Saddle Bronc: Todd Herzog (Penhold, AB), 83, $1,336; Bareback: Alan Dacyk (Worsley, AB), 82.5, $1,096; Bull Riding: Scott Schiffner (Strathmore, AB), 86, $1,368; Tie-Down Roping: Tyson Durfey (Colbert, WA), 8.2, $1,773; Steer Wrestling: Brock Butterfield (Ponoka, AB), 4.4, $2,248; Ladies Barrel Racing: Traci MacDonald (Erkskine, AB), 16.86, $1,365; Team Roping: Matt Fawcett (Stettler, AB) and Dale Skocdopole (Big Valley, AB), 5.7, $4,021; Novice Saddle Bronc: Tyler Wilson (Meadow Lake, SK), 70, $508; Novice Bareback: Cole Goodine (Carbon, AB), 68, $431

Cowtown Pro Rodeo, Maple Creek SK

Saddle Bronc: Shaun Stroh (Dickinson, ND), 85, $900; Bareback: Jake Marshall (Wardlow, AB), 84, $1,067; Bull Riding: Karson Legault (Val Marie, SK), 85, $900; Tie-Down Roping: Nate Baldwin (Blackfoot, ID), 9.5, $1,171; Steer Wrestling: Harley Cole (Cochrane, AB), 3.9, $1,372; Ladies Barrel Racing: Joleen Seitz (Savona, BC), 18.17, $915; Team Roping: Jenner Meston (Tees, AB) and Monty Gertner (Stettler, AB), 6.2, $2,328; Novice Saddle Bronc: Coleman Watt (Hardisty, AB), 69, $395; Novice Bareback: Clint Laye (Cadogan, AB), 70, $318

~ Courtesy the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

Weekend Pro Rodeo Update

The Grande Prairie Stompede is now underway in the northern part of the province, and should prove an exciting four days, especially given the fact it marks the first stop on the Wrangler Canadian Professional Rodeo Tour trail.

Arena Director Jason Ungarian has been looking forward to watching the bronc riding and is pleased with what he’s seen so far.

“There’s nothing finer than a good bronc ride,” he grins, and emphasizes that all he really needs is “a crowd to show up and our stock to buck, which it has been doing. (Yesterday) it was outstanding.”

Luke Butterfield set arena record at Grande Prairie Stompede.

Luke Butterfield of Ponoka, Alberta, helped demonstrate the high caliber riding in the saddle bronc during the first performance on Thursday when he posted an arena-record 89-point ride on Outlawbuckers’ Blue Eyed Trapper.

The timed event athletes have also been making a statement, including Lethbridge, Alberta barrel racer Rana Koopmans, who also broke an arena record at the Stompede grounds during Wednesday’s slack performance when she ran the cloverleaf in 14.99 seconds.

The four-day rodeo runs until on May 30.

Two more rodeos get going on May 28: the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo in Bonnyville, Alberta and the Cowtown Pro Rodeo in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

Bonnyville is celebrating 23 years this spring, and a new attraction to their event.

According to Russ Griffith of the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Association, this is the first year that Bonnyville will have their very own rodeo queen.

Contestants making their way to Bonnyville this weekend can expect something new as well.

“We’ve got the Sports Medicine Team coming here, and it’s the first time we’ve had them,” Griffith announces, proudly revealing that they have had strong enough support from sponsors this year to be able to provide the additional service to the athletes.

Other than that, it’s business as usual.

“We’ve got an action packed weekend, and I can’t think of anybody we don’t have something for between our fair, midway and rodeo,” Griffith states.

In his opinion, it only takes three things to put on an excellent rodeo: “Good stock, good weather and a well-organized event. We’ve got world class Franklin Rodeo (Company) stock that we count on, and we’ve got a super crew of volunteers. The only thing that we hope for is weather,” he says.

The weather is a little iffy over in Maple Creek, but committee person Tom Reardon isn’t letting it bring him down.

“It’ll be a good rodeo, no two ways about it. Good crowds and good scores. And we’re pretty pleased that on Saturday we’ve got Shaun Stroh on War Cry. That’s our marquis match-up: NFR champion versus CFR champion!”

The Cowtown Pro Rodeo is also doing something a little different this year, in addition to all the exciting competitive rodeoing going on at the three-day rodeo.

“We came up with a list of about 40 different families from the district that have been on the same land for 100 years (farming and ranching) and they’ve all been invited. We’re going to bring (reps from each family) into the arena in horse drawn wagons and honour them,” he details. “And on Sunday… it’s going to be Nekaneet Days,” as they honour the Nekaneet First Nation and their role in the community around Maple Creek and in rodeo.

There’s plenty to take in, and Reardon hopes people don’t let the weather deter them from a great weekend.

~ photo and story courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.

May Long Weekend Barrel Racing Wrap-Up

Sammi Bessert of Loma, Colorado was happy to receive an invitation to the 2010 Cloverdale Rodeo, and the talented barrel racer made her first Canadian rodeo count. She and her 8-year-old gelding, Tommy, took home $27,000 in earnings. The 2009 Black Hills Pro Rodeo Co-Champion and Wilderness Circuit Finalist rides a son of Dash Ta Fame (registered name is Terrible Tommy Twist) out of a Bugs Alive in 75/Hempen bred mare. Bessert purchased Tommy off the track as a 3-year-old.

“I was excited to get an invite to Cloverdale,” Bessert commented. “I traveled to B.C. with friend and fellow contestant, Sue Smith. It’s a great opportunity to see a different part of the country.”

In second spot at the invitational ‘non-CPRA/PRCA-approved’ event was St Paul, Alberta’s Rylee McKenzie who won a first and third in Pool A earning a total of $16.250.

Aside from the barrel racing event at Cloverdale, it’s certainly worth noting that Cochrane, Alberta bull rider Steven Turner enjoyed an amazing weekend as well, winning a total of $52,000. ($2000 in Pool A and the entire bull riding short go purse of $50,000, as he was the only bull rider to ride his bull in the final round on holiday Monday.)

Additional pro rodeo action this past weekend, included Luxton Rodeo where Kamloops barrel racer, Julie Leggett won first and Falkland Rodeo where Rylee McKenzie enjoyed more success, winning the championship there.

The Foothills Rodeo Association featured Caroline Rodeo this past weekend. Successful barrel racers there included:
1. BOBBI GOODWIN  15.689
2. VAL GILLESPIE  15.764
3. RHONDA W-WASYLOWICH  15.882
4. SHIANNE KENDZIE  16.022
5. STACY LUNDE  16.060
6. KR ROBINSON  16.065
7. JILL MCDOUGALL  16.067

2010 CPRA Hall of Fame Inductees

CANADIAN PRO RODEO HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2010 INDUCTEES

The Canadian Rodeo Historical Association (CRHA) is pleased to announce this year’s inductees to the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHF).

The CRHA first formed in 1979 to award those who have made a significant contribution to the sport of rodeo in Canada. It was established as an association in 1980. Since then, more than 150 rodeo contestants builders and animal athletes have been honoured with induction into the
Hall of Fame. This year, seven new inductees will join the roster of honoured rodeo contestants, builders and animal athletes that already grace the walls of the Hall of Fame, namely Floyd Peters, Phil Doan, Gordon Doan, Everett Vold, Clayton Hines, Edith Malesh, and Harvey Northcott’s Canadian champion saddle bronc horse Wyatt Earp.

Peters was a tie-down roper and steer decorator from Cardston, Alta. He won the Canadian steer decorating championship in 1945, and three
consecutive Canadian tie-down roping championships from 1945 to 1947. He is only one of two cowboys to win a Canadian championship in both of those timed events. The other cowboy is 1993 CPRHF inductee Kenny McLean.

Gordon Doan competed alongside his brothers Melvin and Urban Doan, and was well known as a bareback rider, though he competed in all the
roughstock events. He picked up his first Canadian bareback championship in 1945, and again in 1946. That same year, he placed fourth overall in the saddle bronc, fourth in the steer riding, and won the bareback championship for the second year running. No surprise, he was also named the 1946 Canadian All-Around champion.

Phil Doan

Phil Doan

Doan’s nephew Phil, from Consort, Alta., carried on the family tradition of success in the rodeo arena. The bareback rider and steer wrestler, who also occasionally competed in the bull riding, served as bareback director for the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association (before it was the CPRA) from 1964 to 1967, and again in 1969. He then served as All-Around director from 1970 to 1973. Phil was named Cowboy of the Year in 1971, and was the second recipient to ever receive the award. But the awards didn’t stop there, as he won the Canadian steer wrestling championship in 1973, and the Canadian All-Around championship in 1974.

Hailing originally from Ponoka, Alta., Everett Vold was a bareback rider and the 1949 Canadian steer decorating champion. Although he never won a championship in the bareback riding, he was a strong contender in that event as well, appearing in the top three of the Canadian standings no less than five times between 1946 and 1950.

Clayton Hines of Drayton Valley, Alta. was a familiar face at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) starting at his first CFR appearance in 1980
and into the early 1990s. Hines, known as Low Tone by his peers, secured the Canadian saddle bronc champion in 1981, after a memorable tie-breaking ride-off against Mel Hyland, and again in 1985.

Edith Malesh was named Committee Person of the Year in 1991 for all her hard work as director of the Assiniboia, Sask, South Country Roundup
committee. At that time, she had already served the rodeo committee for 18 years. She was secretary for the Alberta/Saskatchewan Southern Rodeo Circuit, and started the Saskatchewan Pro Rodeo Circuit after the Alberta circuit split into its own. She also served as Saskatchewan’s representative on the CPRA board from 1988 to 1995.

Wyatt Earp

Owned by Harvey Northcott Rodeo, and ranch-raised out near Caroline, Alta., Wyatt Earp was one of the most formidable broncs a cowboy could draw. During his career, the bald-faced bay made five consecutive appearances at CFR. The 1,600 lb stallion won a number of awards, including the Canadian Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year award in 1997 and 1998. He was named Saddle Bronc Horse of the Calgary Stampede twice, and was voted both Saddle Bronc Horse of the CFR and Saddle Bronc Horse of the NFR in 1996 and 1997.

~ Courtesy of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, photos courtesy of Canadian Rodeo News

2010 Rodeo Legends Announced

The Canadian Rodeo Historical Association (CRHA) has announced the Ranchman’s Legendary Achievement Award recipients for 2010. The honoured cowboys are Brian Whitlow, DC Lund and Allan Currier. They will each be recognized by the CRHA at separate rodeos this summer, which will be announced in an upcoming issue Canadian Rodeo News.

Brian Whitlow

Brian “Red” Whitlow competed at his first rodeo at the age of 11 in his hometown of Cremona, Alta. Although he would later try his hand at a number of events in the amateur circuit, Whitlow’s early experiences in the steer riding paved the way for his career, and he began to focus on bull riding. His first pro rodeo was at Lacombe, Alta. in 1965. Two years later, Whitlow attended Lawrence “Hutch” Hutchison’s bull riding school in Kamloops, B.C. He also attended a bull fighting school around the same time, and was employed in that position for a time, but figured he could make more money in a weekend of bull riding and decided to concentrate on his favourite roughstock event. The athlete went on to win the 1967 Permit Award, and even took a crack at the All-Around by adding steer wrestling to his professional events. He never did win that Canadian championship, but for Whitlow, rodeoing was about the challenge, and even though winning was great, the companionship of his fellow contestants was what really kept this cowboy going down the road. Whitlow retired from rodeo in 1976 after a Harvey Northcott bull named Al Capone broke his leg twice in one season. But by that time, Whitlow and his wife Joy had three children and he decided to settle down and concentrate on farming, but still found time to judge.

Allan Currier

Eight-time Canadian cow milking champion Allan Currier (Czar, Alta.) was an active competitor for nearly two decades, and dominated the standings in his event for most of the 1980s. His first Canadian championship was in 1970. A rodeo fan as a kid, Currier didn’t get his start as an athlete until later on, when a guy working for him on his ranch commended his roping skills and invited him out onto the rodeo trail for a summer. He started practicing and then started going to rodeos, competing in the tie-down roping. Then someone suggested he test his skills in the cow milking. He jokes that he stopped roping calves and focused on cow milking “when I started getting a little too slow to get… any money.” He also won the wild cow milking championship at the Calgary Stampede in 1970, 1982 and 1983, and won the Central Alberta Circuit championship eight times. Currier rodeoed professionally for the last time in 1987, the same year he claimed his eighth Canadian title.

DC Lund

DC Lund started rodeoing professionally in the 1950s, following a family tradition of involvement in the sport. He says he learned to rodeo “First by trial and error, then practice, then observation, then practice, then rodeo school, then practice, then more instruction, and more practice,” but cites his father, Clark Lund, as the person who really helped him get going. He worked all the events except bull riding, and was an especially strong contender in the steer wrestling and tie down roping. He was the 1965 Southern Alberta Rodeo Circuit steer wrestling winner, and won the All-Around in that same circuit in 1974. In 1967, Lund was one of two cowboys selected to represent Canada in a six-month tour of Australia as guests of the Australian Roughriders Association. 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Jim Clifford, was the other competing alongside Lund in the International Championship Rodeo series. Lund and his wife Patty sent regular updates into Canadian Rodeo News during the tour, chronicling the challenges they endured, their failures, their laughs, and winning championships in his and Clifford’s respective events. Back in Canada, Lund finished the season in the steer wrestling within the top five in 1972, 1973 and 1975. He was the steer wrestling representative on the CRCA board in 1974 and 1975. Lund was also a practicing veterinarian. He is now retired.

~ Courtesy the CPRA