Submitted by Terri Mason
The Canadian Cowboys’ Association has honoured one of the Stettler region’s matriarchs of rodeo. At the CCA’s annual convention last week, Elda Weatherly was presented with the coveted Gold Card membership.
Elda Judita Turcato was born on the eve of the Second World War, and it has been a lifetime of explosive action ever since.
She grew up on the family farm near Taber, but it wasn’t long before her interest in rodeo grew beyond sitting in the stands. She chose to get involved and started the critically important job of running the stopwatch for each event.
Her precision made her a popular choice by both the contestants and the organizers, and it was also that accuracy and attention to detail that ushered her into university, where she earned her degree as a registered nurse.
It was no surprise that she met her future husband, Stan Weatherly at a rodeo, back in the day when he competed as a steer wrestler and calf roper on the pro circuit. By 1963, they tied the knot.
Already used to being around “hell-raisers,” they started their family and also began raising rough stock. In 1971, the couple formed their multi-award winning rodeo stock contracting business, Big Country Rodeo.
Their growing success wasn’t a fluke, as Elda and Stan spent endless hours planning their second-to-none rodeo productions that took them across the country from Falkland, B.C., to St. Tite, Que.
Elda Weatherly has always been an integral part of the business, and there’s no business that needs a nurse more than rodeo. She enjoys travelling with her family on the rodeo trail, doing double and triple duty as the rodeo secretary or timer, the chief cook and face-washer. Plus, she has doctored everything from stock to contestants, kids to the crew.
But more than the awards, perhaps the hardest to attain is the steadfast reputation of integrity and honesty earned by both Elda and her late husband. There aren’t too many contractors that have a “handshake” deal on a rodeo they’ve been producing for more than a quarter century.
Today, with the great help of family and friends, the Weatherlys have been producing rodeos for more than 40 years. Testament to their ongoing success is a stunning collection of stock awards gracing the walls of Elda’s Botha home — a tribute to Big Country’s concentrated breeding program of four-legged superstars.
Far from retired, Elda continues to criss-cross the country in Big Country stockliners. She’s an accomplished and trusted CCA rodeo secretary, perhaps the world’s happiest grandmother, and after all those years, is still cooking for the entire crew.