The Airdrie Pro Rodeo is back for the first time since 2019, beginning on Friday afternoon and lasting until Saturday evening.
Organizers made the disheartening decision to cancel the rodeo the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Haley Hartwell, the 2019 Pro Rodeo Princess and an active rodeo committee member.
“This is what these people do for a living and I think with COVID and the pandemic hitting everybody so hard, it was not easy for those people,” Hartwell said. “Everybody in the rodeo community is really excited to be back.”
The Airdrie Pro Rodeo is a long-standing tradition in town, having taken place over the Canada Day long weekend since 1967.
Kicking off the rodeo following the City of Airdrie’s Canada Day parade, which will feature an Airdrie Pro Rodeo float, the junior rodeo begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo Grounds, located a short drive west of city limits. The junior events feature mutton busting, sheep and calf scramble, and barrel racing.
The pro rodeo follows afterwards, with cowboys hitting the dirt at 3:30 p.m. Events include bronc riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, and team roping.
On top of rodeo events, there will also be a kids' play area. While children burn off steam, adults are welcome to unwind in the beer gardens.
“The rodeo is super family-friendly, there are events for everybody,” Hartwell added.
Both days of the rodeo will host different food trucks and although the specific food trucks had not been confirmed as of press time, Hartwell promised a wide variety of options.
After the day's rodeo is complete on Friday, a free shuttle will take rodeo guests over the age of 18 from the rodeo grounds west of Airdrie to the Plainsmen Arena, where the rodeo is hosting a dance in the city.
The dance starts at 8 p.m. and goes until it shuts down, according to Hartwell.
“We’re really hoping that bringing [the dance] into town is going to bring a whole different demographic of people,” Hartwell said.
The dance is free for those with a rodeo ticket and $5 for guests outside of the rodeo looking to enjoy the dance and live music provided by Julian Austin and the Tacoma band.
For the eager camper, Pro Rodeo guests are able to camp for free on the rodeo grounds. The first-come-first-serve camping service will be collecting donations for Elements Dance Company, an Airdrie-based dance studio. Both tents and campers are welcome, but the sites will not be serviced with water and electrical hookups.
The second rodeo day kicks off on July 2 with the junior rodeo at 4 p.m. Following the junior rodeo is the pro rodeo – both rodeos feature the same events as the previous day.
During the intermission that takes place during the pro rodeo, the Rodeo Queen and Princess will be crowned. The crowned Rodeo Royalty act as ambassadors for the rodeo and Airdrie, Hartwell said.
“We were able to travel all over Alberta and down to the States as well,” Hartwell added. “It’s a huge opportunity for the girls.”
The contestants are judged on categories such as horsemanship, personal interviews, and public speaking.
“A lot of it is just being out in the community and getting to know people in the community…that’s kind of the biggest thing, as much as you are affiliated with the rodeo, it’s more about the community,” Hartwell said.
The rodeo winner crowning will wrap up the Saturday, with winners receiving a cash payout. To celebrate the winners and the end of the rodeo, a cabaret with music and dancing will commence following the rodeo crowning.
A cabaret on the rodeo grounds will also be held to celebrate the end of the second day. There will be lots of music, drinks, and dancing, according to Hartwell.
“It’s a great thing for families to get out and get involved locally rather than having to go somewhere else to have a full day of fun,” she said.
To purchase rodeo tickets, guests can do so online at bit.ly/3NjaSoo, or at the door. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors over 65 and youth ages 11 to 17, and free for children under 10.
The Airdrie Pro Rodeo is a non-profit organization and the funds raised from the ticket sales will go towards hosting the rodeo next year. The rodeo will also host a 50/50 raffle which will help support local orgainzations and businesses.
“Our 50/50 raffle this year and every year, we try to get the community involved,” Hartwell said.
Organizations and businesses are invited to support the raffle and following the rodeo, they will receive 25 per cent of the overall proceeds to help the businesses grow.
“The rodeo is a really awesome place to bring the community together,” Hartwell said. “As much as it seems like a very secluded group of people, it’s actually really welcoming for all people in the community.”