Rodeo and community spirit, as well as the competitors, were riding high at the second annual Stettler Steel-Wheel Stampede at Stettler Exhibition Grounds on Aug. 13 to 15 as a soggy arena added to the thrill of the action.
“Support and participation was great and everyone looks forward to the Stettler Steel-Wheel Stampede again next year,” said Ted Nibourg, who chairs the organizing committee of the event co-hosted by Stettler and District Agricultural Association and Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development.
“We had overwhelming support and we attracted people from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan,” said Nibourg.
After a downpour during the opening night that drew about 250 spectators, warmer and brighter weather attracted a larger crowd of about 1,500 on Saturday night and about 1,000 Sunday afternoon, he said.
“They sure responded strongly with big crowds Saturday and Sunday,” said Nibourg.
About 800 people enjoyed the major concert with award-winning Canadian country music star Gord Bamford of Lacombe, who lived and worked a short time in Stettler, a period that helped launch his career.
“The Gord Bamford concert was certainly the highlight of the weekend besides the rodeo competition,” said Nibourg.
“It was great to be able to get that caliber of musical entertainment for this community.”
A digital score board, improved sound system, play-by-play announcer and a clown act enriched the experience to help spectators follow the competition more easily, he said.
Several stampede souvenirs were also on sale for the first time.
Hundreds of people were also served at the breakfasts each of the three mornings.
“All of these events and new and improved features added to the weekend,” said Nibourg.
Local community spirit was high and alive in the ever-popular parade Saturday afternoon that featured a theme to celebrate the centennial of the Canadian Navy although the number of entries was down from last year.
“We had about 30 floats and entries and lots of entries were beautifully decorated and reflected our theme,” said Stacey Benjamin, office assistant for Stettler Regional Board of Trade which coordinated the parade.
“We were excited about the participation in the parade and lots of great entries and the high number of people who watched the parade.”
With 12 mayors participating and lots of horses, the parade was extended.
“We’re looking for a bigger and better parade next year,” said Benjamin.
About 100 local riders were among 354 who competed in various events such as saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling and ladies’ barrel racing in the rodeo sanctioned by the Canadian Cowboys Association and the Chinook Rodeo Association.
During the opening ceremonies of each performance, moments of silence were observed to remember the late Stan Weatherly and Jerry Skocdopole, two longtime supporters of the central Alberta rodeo scene who died earlier this year.
Ladies of the Heartland drill team also demonstrated their riding skills during each performance before rodeo action got underway.
For complete stampede results, turn to page B1.