The Crossfield Rodeo Society has made the difficult decision not to host the annual Pete Knight Days celebration this year, due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 public health restrictions this summer.
The town of Crossfield is always buzzing around the second week of June, as residents await the numerous events the annual Pete Knight Days event boasts, including a pancake breakfast, rodeo, demolition derby, dance, parade and fireworks.
However, “not knowing the future of the summer” is what pushed the organizers to postpone this year’s annual festivities until June 10 and 11 of next year, which will mark the event’s 45th anniversary.
“We waited as long as we possibly could to see when the reopening would be,” Crossfield Rodeo Society President Joanne Cornelssen said.
The event had already been pushed from the usual time of June to August, which required the event’s committee to complete six months of planning and organizing in a month’s time in order to keep up with Alberta’s staged reopening plan.
“If we didn’t get into Phase 3 within 32 days of the rodeo, in order to be able to cancel, we would lose all of our deposits,” Cornelssen said.
She added the pandemic has been rough on Crossfield’s local economy, which made it difficult to secure sponsors for Pete Knight Days. Additionally, Cornelssen said it wasn’t feasible to run a modified version of the celebration without the dance and beer gardens, because those are the event’s primary source of revenue.
In response to the Pete Knight Days cancellation, Crossfield Mayor Jo Tennant wrote in an email to the Rocky View Weekly that “while the Town is understandably disappointed COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of Pete Knight Days again this year, we are grateful to the Rodeo Society for taking the safety of residents and participants seriously during these uncertain times.”
In the meantime, Cornelssen said there are plans in the works to make 2022’s anniversary celebration of Pete Knight Days bigger and better than ever. Early plans include a revitalized rodeo grounds, additional entertainment and a larger parade.
However, 2021 won’t be without a Crossfield Rodeo Society event – Cornelssen said the society is hosting a ‘Harvest Howler’ dance at the Crossfield and District Community Centre in the fall, complete with live music and food trucks. The dance is set for Oct. 23 and tickets are expected to go on sale by the end of August.
Cornelssen claimed the dance will be Crossfield’s first big public celebration since the onset of COVID-19 last year.