Hundreds of trappers are expected to converge on the Stettler Recreation Centre this weekend for the Alberta Trappers Association 39th annual Rendezvous and Outdoorsman Show.
An outdoorsman trade show with more than 30 vendors will run Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“The ATA Rendezvous is very much like any other convention where professionals with skills or crafts get together to exchange ideas, pass on knowledge or introduce new products,” said president Gordy Klassen.
Demonstrations, seminars, speakers a barbecue Friday night and dinner and dance Saturday night are also scheduled, with the public invited.
“We expect between 300 and 400 people for the weekend from all over Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the United States and some from as far away as Switzerland,” said Nicole Naef, one of the organizers.
“Everyone from the community is also invited.”
Admission to the show will be $5 for adults and free for children and youths under 17.
“We will have lots of fun and information about trapping and the outdoors,” Naef said. “We want to talk to youth.”
The public is also invited to the pig-roast barbecue Friday night at 6 p.m. and the banquet and dance Saturday at 6 p.m.
Ultimate Trapper Competitions are expected to be “a major attraction” for the public at various times over the weekend.
Muskrat skinning is set for Friday from 7 to 7:30 p.m.
Competition on Saturday features canine sets at 11 a.m., mink and muskrat sets at 1 p.m., a snowshoe race at 3:30 p.m. and speed skinning for beaver and coyote at 4 p.m.
Nearby, Mike Murray of Alix is slated to be one of the speakers at the seminars, as he will present information on coyote and fox power-snaring Friday at 10 a.m.
A fur fashion show is also scheduled for Saturday during lunch from noon to 1 p.m.
“The ATAs Rendezvous’ main focus is on education,” Klassen said.
“Using professional trappers from across Canada as guest speakers and instructors, we teach the most humane and efficient methods for harvesting fur bearers and dealing with problem wildlife.
“We also teach novice, mid-level and professional trappers methods for fur handling that ensures the harvested animals are treated with the respect they deserve and also to ensure that the trappers maximize their value for the pelts the ship to market.”
Trapping is Alberta oldest commercial industry and has been important to the region for more than 200 hundred years, organizers say.
“Trappers still play a vital role in modern society through wise wildlife management, animal damage control and are the front line for disease control,” Klassen said.
Stettler was selected as the host of the Rendezvous and Outdoorsman Show for its prime location and facilities.
“Stettler has a really good facility for this at a good price,” Naef said.
She noted that the association initially considered Red Deer, though it wasn’t deemed suitable for an outdoors event.
“We wanted something more out in the country like Stettler,” Naef said.
The name Rendezvous calls back to a time where trappers would annually gather at a predetermined spot where they would trade with the traders, who would undertake long, arduous journeys with their goods to trade for furs.
The ATA works closely with several Alberta government ministries and the Rendezvous is considered an important venue for government at all levels to participate, network and inform trappers of changes to regulations, updates and policy.
For more information, visit the association website at albertatrappers.com or phone Naef at 780-817-8582.