Rodeo endures for 6 decades
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