Rodeo king named parade marshal for Stettler stampede

The Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede parade has landed one of the biggest names in the rodeo world as its parade marshal.

Winston Bruce plans to returns his hometown this fall to serve as parade marshal of the Stettler stampede.

The Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede parade has landed one of the biggest names in the rodeo world as its parade marshal.

Stettler native Winston Bruce will lead the parade that kicks off the stampede, said Stacey Benjamin, the manager of the Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development.

The parade is scheduled for Aug. 30 at 5 p.m., on the eve of the Steel Wheel Stampede, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

“I am honoured to be asked,” Bruce said last week. “I have always considered the Stettler area to be home.”

The name Winston Bruce is synonymous with the Calgary Stampede.

The former world saddle bronc champion had a 33-year career with the Calgary Stampede as arena director, rodeo manager and manager of the breeding stock program.

Bruce was born in Stettler and his roots run deep in the Stettler community.

He said he grew up in the Donalda-Gadsby area on a farm — not far from the Battle River — that his grandparents homesteaded in the 1900 range.

Bruce attended a one-room schoolhouse called Willow Park.

He said his father, Laurence Bruce, was instrumental in organizing some of the early rodeos at Stettler.

“I entered my first rodeo at Stettler,” Bruce said.

“I cut my eye-teeth on rodeo at Stettler and rode lots of broncs in the Stettler arena.”

Bruce said he gets nostalgic when he visits Stettler.

“I get a good warm feeling when I drive by the Stettler grandstand — it’s the same one that was there when I competed.”

Bruce said his family later moved across the Battle River to the Heisler-Forestburg district; leaving the area in 1957.

He said he still has cousins living in the Stettler area — the Cassidys.

The decorated world saddle bronc champion was named “cowboy of the year” in 2005, and he has been inducted into both the Pro Rodeo and Canadian Rodeo associations’ Hall of Fame.

Norma Rairdan, chair of the parade committee, said she knew Bruce in his younger days when he would come to Stettler.

She was pleased Bruce accepted the position of parade marshal.

“I never thought we would get him,” she said.

Although Bruce is retired, he’s far from idle.

He operates his own counselling business and is writing three books.

He didn’t reveal his age.

“I don’t count years,” he said. “I count moments of life.

“When the day is over, it’s over and I look forward to tomorrow. I guess you could say I’m a dreamer.”

Benjamin said the theme of this year’s parade is “A Year of Celebration.”

It will recognize the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Canada, the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Cowboy Association and the fifth anniversary of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede.

Rodeo and 4-H have both had a strong presence at Stettler and organizers hope the community will embrace the theme with ample entries.

Benjamin said parade entries are being accepted now by calling 403-742-3181. Parade applications are available at www.stettlerboardoftrade.com.

The Labour Day weekend is a new date for the Steel Wheel Stampede.

Benjamin said the committee wanted to move it off the third weekend of August, which is the same weekend as the Byemoor Fair and slo-pitch tournament.

She said there are still a lot of summer activities going on then.

Benjamin is optimistic about this year’s edition of the stampede.

“It’s going to be exciting this year. The stampede committee is trying a few new things.”

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