CRE set for Spring Classic Rodeo
Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House gets a ride in on American Sister at the Camrose Spring Classic Pro Rodeo at the CRE in Camrose in 2015. This year's rodeo will run April 28-30. File Photo
The life of a cowboy is one of perseverance and hard work.
The term cowboy up means to do just that, to get up and brush the dirt off and keep going, regardless of the situation.
Rodeos across the province are having to do just that through the current economic climate. With the economic downswing dragging on, sponsorships are down and operational costs are up, making it tough for some rodeos to continue on, and in fact some long time events have had to cancel in recent years.
The Spring Classic Indoor Rodeo at the Camrose Regional Exhibition has kicked off the Canadian professional Rodeo Association season for the last 28 years, and it will cowboy up again for the April 28-30 weekend.
“It’s tough to get the sponsorship, but we’ve maintained a lot of it and were thankful for that,” said Camrose Regional Exhibition major events and international agricultural marketing manager Marilyn Lee. “Rodeos cost a lot of money to put on too, and from what I’m hearing from throughout the entire industry, it’s province wide that rodeos are struggling. It’s just a sign of the times and you’re still managing to put it on.”
The rodeo has been an integral part of the community for a generation of rodeo fans and attracts many from throughout the region for the three days. Cowboys and cowgirls will come to compete from throughout Western Canada, the U.S. and usually a few from overseas, though final numbers will not be known until next week.
“It’s an economic driver for the community as well, there’s a lot of spinoff for some of the businesses,” said Lee. “Rodeo has been part of Alberta for many, many years. It’s important to carry on tradition and to have these things within the community for Camrose and the surrounding area.”
Helping the rodeo succeed is that it runs in tandem with one in Kananaskis, giving competitors two opportunities to get in the money on the same weekend. This attracts a higher level of competition as more cowboys and cowgirls are willing to travel to Canada if they know they can double their chance to make it pay on the weekend.
“It works to everybody’s benefit because they can enter two rodeos and they’ve got two kicks at the cat to win some prize money,” said Lee.
The Spring Classic Rodeo presents a full slate of events — barrel racing, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bareback and saddle bronc riding — with stock provided by Outlaw Buckers Rodeo Corp. There will also be a wild pony race.
For those looking for something to do once the final bull has been run on Saturday, there will be the annual Rodeo Dance at 9 p.m. featuring 2017 Alberta Country Music Association Mae Artist of the Year and Fans Choice Winner Bobby Wills with opening act Ty Wilson. Tickets for the dance are $20 in advance and $25 at the door — no minors are permitted at the dance and photo ID will be required for entry.
The rodeo goes at 7 p.m. on April 28 and 29 with the final at 2 p.m. on April 30. Tickets are $20 each and are available through the CRE office.