Hearty folks in the heartland

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The multiple highways leading to Stettler were extra busy on the weekend as visitors came to town to celebrate the Steel Wheel Stampede.

Stettler showed its spirit through three sunny days of rodeo events, a concert, a pancake breakfast and Friday’s kickoff parade. While many of the participants were grounded in the rodeo tradition, some of the onlookers showed up simply out of interest and in search of a good time. In most cases, they found that and more.

From the competition in the semi-pro rodeo circuit to the charm of rising country music star Jason Blaine, patrons from near and far welcomed the third annual stampede in the heart of Alberta.

Stettler showed even more community spirit on the weekend as almost $3,500 was raised for breast-cancer research. The folks at Peavey Mart, and indeed all of the businesses and people who contributed to Saturday’s fundraising barbecue and silent auction, are to be commended for giving tangible and intangible support to a cause that hits home for many families.

Stettler’s neighbours were also in a celebratory mood on the weekend. Just down the road in Botha, the proud community celebrated its centennial on the very grounds where so many memories were forged through the years. From the community hall to the school, visitors and locals alike reminisced about their childhood days in Botha.

Further up Highway 12, the Castor Fair was in full bloom in the new community centre, with table and wall displays a testament to the craftsmanship and assorted skills of area residents. And the antique cars, including a 1929 Model A Ford, were a big hit for passers-by.

A week earlier in Castor, the community hosted senior slo-pitch players from Alberta and Saskatchewan for the annual Castor Legion tournament. With trailers bordering the ball parks, the tournament was a boost to the local economy, though it’s never really about money for players in the 60- and 65-year-old divisions.

Tournament organizer Phil Dietz of the host Castor team said there was no admission charge, nor prize money. Stettler and Edmonton won the division titles, but all 10 teams went home with the same satisfaction.

“At this level, it’s all about fellowship and exercise,” said Dietz, who soon turns 72. “At least we’re not at home sitting on the couch. This keeps us active.”

That same sense of participation has been witnessed in spades through another summer of festivals and gatherings in the region.

A case could be made to have neighbouring communities stage such events on separate weekends, but any perceived scheduling confl ict doesn’t seem to have appreciably hurt one or the other.

In some cases this past weekend, partygoers did the circuit and made stops in Stettler, Botha and Castor, showing that the heartland is full of hearty people.

Bashaw will get into the act this weekend with its centennial celebration.

MacNeil

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