Strandquist carries on her family passion for rodeos – Spotlight

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Sue Strandquist has been active on the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede organizing committee since the rodeo was brought back to Stettler in 2009.

JULIE BERTRAND

Independent reporter

While spectators get to enjoy the events at the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede, Sue Strandquist barely has the time to see anything.

She is the committee member responsible for the advertising and the promotion of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede, which takes place each August. She is also responsible for the local entries.

“I take the local cowboys’ entries and I make sure they pay the fee,” she said. “I don’t get to see much of the rodeo.”

When she has the time to watch, she admits a preference for the timed events.

“I like roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing,” she said.

Strandquist, a self-described rodeo fan, has been on the stampede committee since its inception.

“I was interested when they started to form the committee to bring the rodeo back to Stettler in 2009,” Strandquist said.

“I just came to a meeting and there were a couple of areas I thought I could be of help.”

When looking back, Strandquist readily admits that this year’s stampede was her favourite, if only for the good weather that lasted the entire weekend.

“It is nice to see how successful things fit together when the weather co-operates,” she said.

“When it rains and it is miserable, it is hard to keep everybody’s spirits up.”

Strandquist’s involvement in the stampede was a surprise to no one, as both sides of her family have a strong rodeo tradition.

“My husband Larry’s dad had the first indoor arena in the area and he gave riding lessons,” she said. “He roped in team roping. He also gave English saddle lessons.”

Larry’s uncle is Orville Strandquist, the legendary chuckwagon driver.

“My side of the family has chuckwagon ties as well,” Strandquist said. “My mother was a Walgenbach.”

“It is pretty hard to know whom to cheer for when both sides of the family end up in a race together.”

She also volunteers for the Alberta High School Rodeo Association event in Stettler and for an association that takes care of stock rodeo replacement.

“Since about 1973, a group of stock contractors got together and what they were finding is that some of the rodeo horses, bulls and calves were getting killed in the rodeo arena and the owners were out of the money of the value of the animal,” she said.

“So they all got together and they formed an association. Each member pays a fee to join the association and for each rodeo performance. If an animal is killed, the member makes a claim and receives a payout.”

The association will review all the claims submitted this year at the FCA finals in Red Deer this October. Strandquist is responsible for reviewing the claims and presenting them to the rest of the association.

Through all this, Strandquist still has the time to work part-time at UFA.

“They’ve been really supportive of the things that I needed to do for the rodeo,” she said.

“It is nice to have a central point where people can come see me for a minute or to drop something off.”

Strandquist is already thinking about the 2012 Steel Wheel Stampede.

“It is pretty scary because how are we going to top this year’s success next year?” she wondered.

“If we have done so well and made such great strides in three years, what are we going to do next year?”

While the committee won’t meet again before the new year, the members have already identified what could be improved next year.

“There are things that need to improve at the grounds,” Strandquist said.

“We need a new timed event end chute and maybe work a little bit on the pens back in that timed event area. We are definitely going to need more bleachers.”

Moreover, the committee will be on the lookout for new members and volunteers.

“I am sure there are people out there that are just as enthusiastic about it as we are,” Strandquist said.

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