By Kevin J Sabo
For the Independent
After taking a pandemic related year off in 2020, the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede galloped back to town for 2021.
The rodeo was just one part of a full day of activities held in Stettler on July 17, 2021. The rest of the day was packed with activities on agricultural grounds and in the community.
Starting the day was a pancake breakfast hosted by the Town of Stettler and the County of Stettler, which ran at the Agriplex from 8.a.m. until 10.a.m.
Following the pancake breakfast, the Stettler Magnetos car club hosted a show & shine on the grounds from 10 a.m. until just before 2 p.m. at which point the parade began marshalling at the Stettler & District Agricultural Grounds.
The parade departed the grounds at 3 p.m. working its way through town. The route was adjusted this year due to construction being done on several places along its usual route. Still, there were many parade floats. The procession began with an RCMP cruiser, and featured several tractors, older vehicles, and representatives from the Town and County of Stettler, as well as many others in between. The end of the parade was brought up by a Stettler Fire Department engine and a paramedic response vehicle from Stettler & District Ambulance.
After the parade concluded and all the vehicles were back at the grounds, the Antique Tractor Club demonstrated a tractor pull in preparation for the annual event in Stettler on July 24. In a tractor pull, a still running antique tractor is used to pull a weighted sled along a track, and whichever tractor can pull it furthest is the winner. As the tractor pulls the sled, the weight moves, making it harder to pull. The annual antique tractor pull is open to the public, and a concession will be on site.
A variety of food trucks set up just outside the grandstand so people could have supper before the main event started at 6:30 p.m.
Due to a variety of factors, the Stettler Steel Wheel Stampede Rodeo was modified for 2021, featuring rough stock events only. The rodeo opened with the singing of “O Canada” and the recitation of the Cowboy’s Prayer, before Stettler’s Ladies of the Heartland opened the show with a drill presentation.
Rodeo action was divided into a “long-go” and “short-go” events. In the “long-go” each competitor would ride for their opportunity to get into the “short-go” round, which was a showdown between the top three of each event.
Bareback Riding started the evening off, with five riders, mainly from Alberta, however there was one from Saskatchewan and one from Australia. The top three in the Bareback event were Strawbs Jones, the lone Aussie, who rode for 73 points, Denny Phipps, who also rode for 73 points, and Blake Link, who rode for 68 points.
Saddle Bronc riding featured seven competitors, all from around Alberta. The top three in Saddle Bronc Riding were Logan Young, of Tomahawk, who rode for 70 points, Adrian Hemart of Black Diamond, riding for 69 points, and Jake Henry of Strathmore, also riding for 69 points.
The final “long-go” event was Bull Riding, and the bulls were uncooperative. Eleven competitors climbed on the bulls in the “long-go” but not one rider stayed on for a qualified ride.
After the “long-go” rounds concluded, a brief intermission was held, featuring trick riding demonstrations by the Daring Divas trick riding team. The team is made up of 13-year-old Kloe Holte of Hughenden, Alberta, and 13-year-old Tavi Pickles of Castor, Alberta.
Proceeding into the “Short-go” Showdown events, In Bareback Riding, Jones, Phipps, and Link each climbed onto the Broncs again, with Jones ultimately winning the event.
In the Saddle Bronc “Short-go”, Young, Hemart, and Henry competed for the top prize, with Logan Young making the only qualified ride, with 76.5 points.
Despite no one qualifying in the “Long-go”, three riders were selected for the “Short-go” Bull Riding. Keaton Martz, Fabien Dueck, and Chris Young all mounted up for the finals, and Chris Young took top place with the final ride of the night, scoring 72 points and the only qualifying bull-ride of the night.
After the rodeo events concluded, the Ladies of the Heartland were back on the field for another horseback drill presentation, and then an 18 plus dance was held on the Agricultural grounds.