Rodeo legend Winston Bruce (right) returned to his Stettler stomping grounds last week to serve as the honorary parade marshal for the fifth annual Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede parade on Friday afternoon.

Staging stampede on long weekend adds perspective to annual festival

What is the future of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede on the Labour Day weekend?

What is the future of the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede on the Labour Day weekend?

That seems to the be the big question organizers will wrestle with over the next few weeks, or months.

To accurately gauge whether the September long weekend is the ideal time for the rodeo could take a few years — much like the committee studied the first four years of the revived rodeo.

On what was the probably the warmest weekend of the summer, did that attract or detract people from the rodeo?

Besides the three rodeo shows, this year’s stampede definitely had more activities to draw those who likely wouldn’t go to “a cowboy weekend.”

Labour Day weekend seems to be a good time to hold a community event, because no other activities are normally held at that time, and it could actually draw people from all over central Alberta.

Keeping with the agriculture and rural theme, the stampede has stepped forward in the right direction to add related events, such as the antique tractor pull and the rib cook-off, which can only seem to grow.

To partner with Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions — which attracts thousands of tourists each year — certainly helps to boost the stampede as a top-class event that promotes the agricultural lifestyle and industry.

At the same time, the Fly-In Breakfast, which drew more than 800 on Monday, could also be another way to tie in more to the rodeo performances.

Ultimately, the bottom line for the future of the stampede is the financial statements and support from businesses and volunteers.

As well, organizers welcome comments and ideas for next year and the longterm future.

If the community wants to retain the stampede and build it into the future, then people from the community will have to support it.

I know that a midway and perhaps a bench show of local produce, flowers, other agricultural products and craftwork have been suggested to make it an all-encompassing fair and rodeo.

However, the one downside of Labour Day weekend is that this is the end of the rope in the rodeo season and many of the quality riders have hung up their saddles for the season.

What is the best to further enhance the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede and to promote Stettler’s agricultural roots?

— Froese’n Time

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