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 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.