A family rodeo tradition – Spotlight

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Two winners - Scott Schiffner proudly posed with his great-uncle Orville Strandquist and their two Guy Weadick Memorial Awards before going to an event in Camrose.

Two winners - Scott Schiffner proudly posed with his great-uncle Orville Strandquist and their two Guy Weadick Memorial Awards before going to an event in Camrose.

Julie Bertrand / Independent reporter

Former Stettler resident and professional bull rider Scott Schiffner won the Guy Weadick Memorial Award at the 2011 Calgary Stampede, following in the footsteps of his great-uncle, legendary chuckwagon driver Orville Strandquist.

It was a great moment for the Strandquist-Schiffner family, highlighting the family’s strong rodeo tradition.

“Who would know this was going to happen in the family,” said Faye Blakely, daughter of Orville Strandquist.

The Guy Weadick Memorial Award award is presented annually to the one chuckwagon or rodeo competitor who best embodies what the cowboy stands for, and who best typifies the spirit of the Calgary Stampede. It is based upon ability, appearance, showmanship, character, sportsmanship and cooperation with other cowboys, the arena crew, the media and the public.

“It is voted on by your peers,” said Scott Schiffner.

Strandquist won it in 1985, becoming the first chuckwagon driver to receive this award.

Born in 1920 in Stettler, Strandquist started driving chuckwagons after realizing that his talent did not lie in bull riding. His first race was at the Stettler Stampede in 1939. He made his first appearance at the Calgary Stampede in 1940, and won the event’s chuckwagon race in 1941. His career span seven decades, during which he won the Edmonton Klondike Days and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

“He is the oldest person ever to run wagons at Calgary, because now the age limit is 65,” said Schiffner.

Besides his competitiveness in his sport, Strandquist helped revolutionize wagon racing by being the first to wear a hard helmet. He also was instrumental in the use of cardboard barrels, eliminating most of the accidents caused by steel barrels.

“I found an article in a Cheyenne paper that said he is the longest competing professional athlete ever known in history,” said Blakely.

Meanwhile, great-nephew Scott Schiffner has been a professional bull rider since 1998.

“I never dreamed I would have one of my kids that would follow in the rodeo footsteps of my uncle Orville,” said Patty Schiffner, mother of Scott.

“It is so special that Scott and his great-uncle won the same thing.”

Schiffner has had a great career so far. He is an eleven- time CFR qualifier. He is the 2001 Calgary Stampede Bull Riding Champion and the Canadian Bull Riding Champion. Schiffner was also the PBR Canada National Champion in 2006.

2011 will be a memorable year for Schiffner, what with winning the Guy Weadick Memorial award and doing a bull riding demonstration for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their time at the Calgary Stampede.