Halkirk extends rope to saddle-bronc riders

Even with towering windmills now dotting the new-look Halkirk landscape, the 100-year-old village stepped back in time

Big Valley cowboy Wyatt Thurston entertains the crowd during the saddle-bronc finals Saturday night in Halkirk.

Even with towering windmills now dotting the new-look Halkirk landscape, the 100-year-old village stepped back in time Saturday for its 17th annual bull-a-rama.

An estimated 600 to 700 people attended the popular summertime stop on the Halkirk rodeo grounds. The crowd braved the first real taste of cool temperatures this summer to check out a varied program of entertainment and roughstock action.

Almost 1,000 people showed up on a hot night for last summer’s bull-a-rama, but this year’s temperatures were in the 15 C range for most of the evening.

“(The turnout) depends so much on what else is going on in the area, and of course, as was the case Saturday, the weather was definitely a factor,” said John de Mos, the secretary-treasurer of the Halkirk Elks.

“It wasn’t great (weather). We would have preferred another 10 degrees (warmer) and less wind.”

On the bright side, “we only had about four drops (of rain) in the afternoon,” de Mos said.

“I think it was a nice crowd. They were quite enthused about the events.

“The mini-chuckwagon races were really a crowd-pleaser. We had a variety of other things — the Ladies of the Heartland, local band Paper Bag Skirt, the wild-pony races and ladies’ calf scramble and so on and so forth.

“I think all of that keeps the crowd entertained, as well as the main event — the bulls and the broncs.”

The Canadian Cowboys’ Association was added to the Halkirk mix this year and provided a boost in roughstock competitors, as 17 saddle-bronc entries complemented the nine bull-riders.

“It seems a lot of bull-riders are hurt this time of year — or broke,” bull-a-rama secretary and timer Maxine Baird said with a laugh.

“So we just found that we had to add something else to it to make it a profitable show for the spectators — a two- to two-and-a-half-hour show.

“It’s the last thing the kids, and the parents, can get to before they have to go back to school. And usually, we’ve been pretty lucky with the weather. I guess it could have been worse.”

Although it was a cool night, a spectacular sunset made for a colourful end to the rodeo program.

And hearty folks hung around for a dance.

“For the dance, it was fairly lively … I’d say there was probably 150 people or so there,” de Mos said.

“By 2 o’clock (in the morning), it was mostly young people who could tolerate the temperature and the volume of the music.”

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