Several milestones in local agriculture will be celebrated when the fifth annual Stettler Steel-Wheel Stampede returns in one week’s time over the Labour Day weekend.
“We are very excited about our fifth annual stampede and all the weekend has to offer this year,” said Tana Nixon, who chairs the event committee of the Stettler and District Agricultural Society, a partner with Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development.
“We have had more positive than negative response about the date change, with quite a few telling us that as school will be starting the day after the stampede they will be around to attend this year, so that makes us hopeful regarding numbers.”
“A Year of Celebration” is the theme for this year to mark the fifth anniversary of the modern-day stampede, 100 years of 4-H and the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Cowboy Association.
“We’re looking for a big year and it’s getting pretty exciting,” said Stacey Benjamin, manager of the board of trade.
Before the actual rodeo events Saturday to Monday, the parade kicks off the weekend Friday at 5 p.m. with plenty of fun in the evening at the stampede grounds with a rib cook-off and mounted shoot-out.
New this year, the rib cook-off at the grounds will provide a special flavour with restaurants and businesses battling for the best ribs in the region, judged by the public for just $2.
The mounted shootout is set for 4 to 8 p.m. while demonstrations of freestyle motocross hits the ground at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
“Adrenaline is being offered up on Friday with the mounted shooters, and local boys Matt Rairdan and Chad Bauman, doing their Freestyle Motocross demo,” Nixon said.
“We are also very excited and looking forward to seeing the Polocross demos that are going to be part of the rodeo performance this year too.
“We feel that as the Minor Lacrosse Association here in Stettler was very popular out of the gate, that many will be very entertained and excited to see a little example of this fast paced combination sport.
Old-time fun is also on the agenda for Saturday and Sunday, with the tractor pull before the rodeo.
Stampede spectators are in for great entertaining shows, organizers assure.
“We are more than thrilled to have Ash Cooper, commonly known in the rodeo world as CrAsh Cooper, as our rodeo clown and barrelman,” Nixon said.
“CrAsh alone will be great reason to come to the rodeo.”
As the fifth annual Stettler Stampede, and the 50th anniversary of the sanctioning association, the Canadian Cowboys Association, Nixon said the organizer wanted to bring in the big guns, so to speak, to celebrate.
“Between CrAsh and our rodeo announcer, Joe Braniff, we are pretty pleased.”
Alberta Prairie Steam Train’s Sunday afternoon excursion is going to put those train travellers back in town right before rodeo time.
“We are pumped about the idea that out of towners will think Stettler is a great destination, even an overnight destination, if they want to take in the steam train, the pancake breakfasts, and the rodeo events being held down at the exhibition grounds,” Nixon said.
The annual fly-in breakfast at Stettler Airport on Labour Day morning, which always gets a good draw, also ties in to the events.
The entertainment in the beer garden on Saturday and Sunday is a little different than what we have had in the past, and should make for a very fun time and great place to be hanging out on the last long weekend of the summer.
For spectators, the weekend pass has become good value if for those who plan to attend more than one day of the rodeo this year, Nixon said.
“Event sponsors have been great and supportive as always. So many that have been on board since Year 1, and a few new ones, which is muchly needed and very much appreciated. We thank all of them.
“We have been in the running for Rodeo of the Year in the Canadian Cowboys Association for the last couple of years, so our committee is very proud of that accomplishment for such a young rodeo.
“We don’t want to get too big either that we lose sight of the quality aspect of the production, because then what happens also is that the committee and volunteers get too drained and lose their passion for this wonderful family oriented sport, and for its part in our community and heritage.”