Aaron Mercer, 26, fighting a bull during the freesylte event at Stettler’s Steel Wheel Stampede June 7,2018. (File photo)

Aaron Mercer, 26, fighting a bull during the freesylte event at Stettler’s Steel Wheel Stampede June 7,2018. (File photo)

Looking back at the history of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede

Stettler has deep rodeo roots.

When the professional rodeo hosted by Stettler area service groups shut down in the early 1990s, the loss left a significant hole in the community.

According to former town councillor Al Campbell, when surveys were put out by the town in the early 2000s the demand for the event had not diminished, though with the Ponoka Stampede just down the road there was resistance.

Eventually, though, a committee came together on April 3, 2009 with support of the town, county and corporate sponsors.

The committee, comprised of Jerry and Lana Sinclair, Justin Twogood, Al Campbell and several others planned and executed the first Stettler Steel Wheels Stampede with a little over four months of planning.

According to Campbell and Lana Sinclair, who recently spoke with the Independent, some of the first competitors in the event were professional cowboys Cody and Curtis Cassidy and Jeremy Harden.

Stock contracting for the early years was provided by Carl Barrett and his company Prairie Rodeo based out of Saskatchewan. According to Campbell, Barrett agreed to provide the stock contracting at a reduced cost for the first year, as long as the committee agreed to sign a five-year commitment.

To provide another draw to the stampede, Lana, an alumni from Red Deer’s Flying 8s drill team, got in touch with Kelsey Bignell and before long Stettler’s Ladies of the Heartland were born. According to Lana, the team hosted their first show at the first Steel Wheel Stampede.

Over time, some of the contractors, volunteers, and entertainment has changed. Warren Weatherly and Big Country Rodeo took over the stock contracting once the initial agreement with Barrett was up, which continued until his retirement. Northcott Rodeo took over the stock contracting in 2021 for the roughstock rodeo held at the end of summer.

Still, the volunteers continue to work hard to bring a quality event to the community. After the last two years of uncertainty, the committee is bringing back the full Canadian Cowboy Association (CCA) sanctioned event.

According to Lana, Stettler’s Steel Wheel Stampede is “one of the best paying rodeos in the CCA.”

“We attract some good cowboys here,” said Lana.

“I hope we can get more people into that grandstand.”

Stettler’s Steel Wheel Stampede will take place June 10 and 11.