Rodeo en­dures for 6 decades

The Drumheller Mail - - CLASSIFIEDS - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

What started as a sports day for the com­mu­nity, has e volved into one of t he premier rodeo e vents in Al­berta.

The Lions Club Ro ck­y­ford Ro- deo is turn­ing 60 this year. While many r odeos ha ve f allen by t he way­side, t he e vent off ers an e xtrav­a­ganza of r odeo events, fam­ily fun, and a good time for all.

Ac­cord­ing t o “Ro ck­y­ford: Where We Crossed the Creek and Set­tled,” be­fore 1957 the commu- nity would gather for a sports days with events such as tug of war, base­ball, and horse races.

A few of the or­ga­niz­ers that year de­cided to make it an even big­ger event and the rodeo was born.

The ini­tial events in­cluded calf rop­ing, cow rid­ing, wild cow milk­ing and some races.

The da y st arted w ith a ch uck­wagon break­fast, a p arade, and a flag rais­ing c er­e­mony, b efore the rodeo took off. Gil­bert Burke was the first arena di­rec­tor.

Louie G eeraert de tails how he de­cided t o build a ch uck­wagon to serve the an­nual break­fast. He, along with Joe Koester, Bert Daven­port, and Stan Harry worked to make the break­fast a suc­cess with the c om­mu­nity pit ching in sup­ply­ing the food and ut en­sils. The wagon even caught fire but ev­ery­one was safe.

Their sec­ond year more joined in t o he lp, and F red K eeler and his or ches­tra pr ovided m usic a t the br eak­fast. In t he e arly ye ars they would hit ch up t he w agon and pull it in the pa­rade, how­ever, they soon found they would never fin­ish serv­ing in time to get in the pa­rade queue.

The r odeo g rew and by 1960, the track w as im­proved to make way for pony wagon and char­iot races, and a f air w as adde d in 1962.

In 1965 they be­gan to build the new fa­cil­ity and in 1967 it be­came a F oothills Cow boy A sso­ci­a­tion (FCA) e vent, w ith a f ull sl ate of events in­clud­ing bare­back, sad­dle bronc, bull rid­ing, steer wrestling and calf rop­ing, boys steer rid­ing and w ild cow milk ing. This w as along w ith t he g ymkhana and chuck and char­iot races.

The rodeo grew into a Satur­day event, and by 1973, they added an evening show to ac­com­mo­date all the en­tries. By 1976, it w as a f ull week­end show.

An­other main­stay to the rodeo was t he ad­di­tion of St am­pede Wrestling, whic h a ttracted e ven more fans.

This year the spirit lives on with an FC A san tioned e vents, a p arade, break­fast and b eer gar­dens. This year slack b egins at 11 a .m., Fri­day, f ol­lowed by ch uck and char­i­ots a t 6:30 p.m. and f am­ily dance at 9 p.m.

Satur­day it all ge ts go­ing ag ain with break­fast st art­ing at 7 a .m., with t he p arade a t 10 a .m., and rodeo e vents b egin­ning a t 12:30 p.m. There is a beef bar­be­cue din­ner at 5p.m. with the char­i­ots and chucks and t hen the cow­boy ball at 9 p.m.

Sun­day opens with break­fast at 7:30 a.m., with the rodeo at noon, beef on a bun a t 5 p.m., and t hen the ch ucks and char iots a t 6:30 p.m.

Rock­y­ford Rodeo has out­lasted many events across the prov­ince and is cel­e­brat­ing its 60th sea­son. Mailphoto by Pa­trick Ko­lafa

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