Stettler Steel Wheel Stanpede sparkled under sunny skies Sunday after a soggy and sloppy start on the two previous nights.
Rodeo fans roared with the return of rodeo at Stettler Exhibition Grounds on August 14 to 16 co-hosted by Stettler Board of Trade and Stettler and District Agricultural Society.
“Everyone was more than enthusiastic about the return and future of the stampede after a 10-year absence,” said Ted Nibourg, who co-chaired the organizing committee.
Spectators received a questionnaire as they entered the grounds, allowing them to comment on the event as organizers received about just over 100 responses for each performance.
“That was pretty well the same comment from all the surveys.”
Some 50 local riders and over 300 contestants competed in a variety of events including 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 (CCA) and the Chinook Rodeo Association.
Stettler Stampede earned a major stamp of approval from the CCA.
“It’s one of our highest-paying rodeos and we would definitely want to see Stettler back on our circuit for the future,” said CCA president Jonathan Kmita, who competed in the rodeo on Saturday, traveling from his home in Weyburn, Saskatachewan.
“I was impressed with the number of spectators despite the rain, and the condition of the area was fairly good.”
“It will be a memorable rodeo because of the rain,” said Nibourg, noting that the event was a financial success.
Heavy rains created a sloppy and muddy surface for the competitors.
“I was pleased with the efforts of the riders in the mud,” said co-chair Jerry Sinclair.
“Many of them were joking back and forth as to who would be the next to take a mud bath.”
“Our ground was firm under the slop.”
But the rain didn’t stop the faithful rodeo fans, and made for the several entertaining spills.
“We had pretty good crowds despite the rain,” said Town of Stettler Councillor Al Campbell who served on the committee.
“Response and support from the community has been excellent.”
“We couldn’t have staged this rodeo without that support.”
Confident the stampede will only grow with greater support, he commended the great team effort of the committee and the leadership of Nibourg and Sinclair as co-chairs.
Hundreds of people lined the streets for the colourful parade that featured about 60 floats and entries Saturday afternoon in a drizzle of rain.
“It was an awesome parade despite the rain,” said parade coordinator Norma Rairden.
Entries showcased businesses, organizers and communities throughout the Stettler region and the central Alberta area.
About 300 people attended the dance Saturday night,
The weekend also featured pancake breakfasts each morning and a cowboy church service Sunday morning.