The Airdrie Pro Rodeo (APR) has suffered its second consecutive cancellation as a result of restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, it’s bad news, but we’ve had to cancel again,” said Ashley Hygaard, a committee member and former APR princess. “It’s just too much pressure to put on the financial stability of our club, the rodeo itself, and obviously all the partners that keep us going.”
As an alternative to the three-day community event, Hygaard said a 50/50 raffle will be held later this month to help offset the losses of not being able to run the rodeo, and to ensure it can return bigger and stronger next year. She said the goal is to raise $10,000, with a draw date of May 31.
She added the APR committee also plans to hold a “five days of rodeo” merchandise giveaway during the Canada Day long weekend to say thank you to the event's supporters.
“We have some APR swag to give away,” she said. “We don’t know exactly what that will look like yet, whether it’s merchandise, sweaters, hats or stuff like that, but during the five days we would normally have the rodeo, we’re going to do a giveaway, so there will be a winner each day.”
Established in 1967, APR is one of Airdrie’s longest standing community events. Held over the July 1 long weekend at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo Grounds just west of the city, the rodeo attracts upwards of 10,000 spectators and 400 professional cowboys each year. Many of the competitors use the event as a warm-up for the Calgary Stampede, which follows shortly afterward.
Over the decades, APR has grown to include other attractions, such as live music, food trucks and a junior rodeo for younger competitors.
“It’s too bad, because we would love to be able to do something,” Hygaard said. “It’s such a fun way to get the community together, and we’re also sad we won’t get to see all the regulars and bring in that business to Airdrie and the surrounding area. But it is what it is, and people understand that, for sure.”
According to Hygaard, the cancellation of the rodeo will likely have a negative impact on the local economy, as area businesses typically benefit from the influx of visitors the event brings to Airdrie over the Canada Day weekend.
“You can think about the hotel industry, the food industry and all the local shops that are open during that time,” she said. “Obviously, our sponsors get noticed by people coming in and we try to drive business to as many local places as we can, whether that’s getting a tire fixed on their rig, getting food, or having a place to stay. Whatever it may be, we love to support local.”
As for the 50/50, Hygaard said tickets will be available for purchase until May 29. She said the proceeds will help ensure APR thrives post-pandemic.
“That 50/50 winner can do with it what they may, but every little bit helps us,” she said. “We don’t try to generate a bunch of revenue for us personally, but we do want to come back bigger, stronger and better than ever for next year.”
For more information, visit the Airdrie Pro Rodeo Facebook page. To buy tickets for the 50/50, visit bit.ly/3esbJF2