Stettler stages stompin’ time at Steel Wheel

While the fourth annual Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede last weekend attracted hundreds of people to various events

The Heartland girls add a touch of colour and pageantry to the Steel Wheel parade and later at the rodeo.

While the fourth annual Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede last weekend attracted hundreds of people to various events, community leaders and rodeo-goers suggest even more could be added to attract larger and younger crowds.

“We were extremely happy with the attendance this year,” said Tana Nixon, acting co-chair of the rodeo committee with the Stettler and District Agricultural Society, which co-hosts the event at Stettler Exhibition Grounds with Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development.

“The weekend was super and we couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather to rodeo.”

The grandstand was full Friday and Saturday nights.

While the popular local band Domino packed the place Saturday night, the crowd was considerably smaller for Tim Hus on Friday night, but enthusiastic about his Canadian music, Nixon said.

Big crowds lined the parade route Friday afternoon, said Stacey Benjamin, manager of Stettler Regional Board of Trade.

“We had 40 entries, with a lot of variety.”

No entries, though, responded to the call to families with rodeo roots, she said.

“But we had a lot of people who just wanted to be part of a parade and we had lots of horses.”

Two pancake breakfasts and the Cowboy church also attracted big crowds.

As the stampede grows, organizers plan to build the event, including a midway and other children’s activities, Nixon said.

“We are looking at different options for next year and the future, to grow and improve this event,.

“A midway is in our plans, but there is just some conflict that hasn’t allowed one to be available for us — hopefully in the future.”

A horse expo was staged in the conjunction with the rodeo about two years ago, which was popular and would be an ideal activity to complement the stampede, she said.

The committee will soon read the surveys distributed at the gate, to help organizers plan for the future.

A fair was supported by several people who spoke with the Independent at the stampede last weekend.

“The option of a midway would interest a younger crowd and I would absolutely like to have an old-time fair with a bench show,” said Sheryl Hadwell of Stettler.

“A midway would be great for kids and chuckwagon races would also be good,” said Renee Lang of Stettler.

“A fair would be a good idea,” said Trent Haner of Stettler.

“It would bring in more people and a younger crowd — it’s something they should try to bring back.”

“A farmers’ market would be good to have, to see what we grow and live on,” said Arnold Regner of Bashaw.

While a fair with a bench show of local produce and craft entries was last held in 2001, both municipal leaders agree a fair with the stampede would attract more younger people.

“Anything you can run with it will enhance its success and draw more people,” said Stettler Mayor Dick Richards.

“A bench show was big back then and filled the old arena and Agri-plex,” said County of Stettler Reeve Wayne Nixon.

“A fair is something we shouldn’t give up.

“This would help get younger people involved.”

Nixon said he and other people who’ve spoken with him also suggest chuckwagon races, which are always a crowd-pleaser.

While the agriculture society plans for next year and the future, the town lauds the organizers and the community, which has embraced the major event.

“It’s an event that draws the community together, both in sponsorships of businesses and organizations and the agricultural nature of rodeo,” Richards said.

“I think the committee has done a marvelous job of restoring the rodeo, and the rodeo has proven itself.”

The Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede is now held each year on the third weekend of August.

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