After months of planning and hours of hard work by many volunteers, the 2023 edition of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede is in the books.
Events kicked off on the evening of Fri, June 9.
Gates at the Stettler agricultural grounds opened at 6 p.m. before the bull riding started at 7.
Members from Red Deer’s 78th Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery reserves, and the 41 Signals Unit, another reserve unit, were on hand recruiting and showing some of the equipment used by the military, including an artillery piece.
At 7 p.m., the main event started; Stettler’s Ladies of the Heartland opened the festivities with a riding display before Andrea Cress sang O Canada.
The bull-riding was split into two “go rounds” with the rider with the highest combined score taking the evening. While 14 riders took part in the first go, South Australian cowboy Clay Flanagan had his evening cut short during the first ride of the night when he broke his arm aboard the bull Skunk Cabbage.
Two riders managed to score points in the first go, Stettler’s own Amando Davilla and Langdon, Alta., cowboy Wyatt Laughlin. Both riders tied with 81.5 points.
In the second go, three riders held on. Davilla picked up another 76.5 points, making 158 on two rides. Edson’s cowboy Tristan Manning picked up 78.5 points on his ride. Laughlin won the evening picking up 84 points on his second ride, giving him 165.5 points total.
Helping keep the riders safe were bullfighters Dylan Costelo and Kani Johnson, both of whom took some abuse at the hands of the large animals. Due to an injury, Costelo needed to be switched out before the end of the second go.
At the end of the bull riding, a cabaret was held into the early hours with Hanna-based DJ Dally Up and Dance providing the music.
On June 10, a full day of activities got started early in town.
The town and county hosted a pancake breakfast at the Agriplex from 8-10 a.m.
Around 10 a.m., the Stettler Magneto’s Car Club set up a show and shine on Main Street on the block in front of the town office. According to organizers, just short of 100 cars were registered for the event.
A little after 11 a.m. it was time for the Steel Wheel Stampede parade! The Parade Marshall for 2023 was local horseman Jim Long.
Right after the parade finished, it was time for a vehicle attraction of a different sort; it was time for the Heart Land Youth Centre’s (HYC) second annual soapbox derby!
The event was sponsored by the HYC and Stettler and Area Family Resource Network and around a dozen youth participated. This year, the ramp for launching the soapbox racers was set up beside the Stettler Hotel instead of on Main Street.
Back at the agricultural grounds, around 20 participants took part in the afternoon portion of the barrel racing which was held in the main arena. Starting at 2 p.m., a junior firefighting challenge ran for the afternoon until around 5 p.m.
Stettler’s Antique Tractor Club fired up their equipment and gave a tractor-pull demonstration from 5-6 p.m.
At 6 p.m., the gates to the grandstand opened again for the evening rodeo performance. The evening rodeo event was the return of Jerry Sinclair Memorial saddle-bronc riding.
Opening the event was again the Ladies of the Heartland who gave an equine demonstration before local youth Josh Nixon sang O Canada.
Before moving into the roughstock event, around 25 riders took part in barrel racing ranging from pee wee to adult. The overall winner of the barrel racing was Staci Juhasz.
Moving into the roughstock event, 14 competitors tried riding horses provided by Northcott Rodeo Inc. The event was also split into two “go rounds” with the combined score determining the winner, the same as the night before with the bulls.
Seven of the 14 riders scored points in the first go with Sylvan Lake’s Colten Powell and Edson’s Jordan Cust tying with 79.
After the intermission, the next go ran with five riders scoring points. After two rounds, Brodie Roessler, of Hines Creek, Alta., came out on top with 146 points.
Helping the cowboys safely get off their wild rides were the horseback pickup men, Ben Juhasz and Blade Young.
After the rodeo portion of the show concluded, the cabaret ran again, this time with Saskatchewan musicians Mitch Larock and the 4:54 Band providing the entertainment.