By Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Whitecourt Woodlands Rodeo took over the Eagle River Casino rodeo grounds at the Westward Hall on August 21 and 22. The weekend event put on by the Whitecourt & District Agricultural Society was a welcomed sight for both attendees and participants. Society president Malcolm Heaven said it was about time. “Our usual time for the rodeo is the third week of June, but this year, since nobody knew what was happening with COVID, we had to cancel that. Then the WRA (Wildrose Rodeo Association) came up with this date for us in August, and we said yup and jumped at it.”

Spectators excited to see chuckwagons or pro bulls were likely saddened to see them not on the schedule, but Heaven said there was a good reason for that. “The chuckwagons weren’t ready. A lot of them haven’t been racing all year. It’s a money thing too because it costs a lot of money to get the wagons to come here, and we just didn’t have the time to raise that kind of money this year.” He said it was the same with the pro bulls. “That’s another big cost for us, and we just didn’t have that in our budget. We decided to go with the rodeo so that everybody would get a little piece of the action.”

Heaven said that everyone was happy to get back into the swing of things. “Over the last two years, they haven’t done anything and trying to get into the CFR has been really tough on them. We thought we would give them an opportunity to make some points up for this year’s CFR.” Heaven said that the Canadian Finals Rodeo is points based and without the opportunities to compete, riders can’t build up what they need. “They need points to make it, and this is how they earn those points.”

He explained that the cowboys and cowgirls were pumped when they heard they could compete at the Whitecourt Woodlands Rodeo this year. “It was a good response. People were quite excited about it. We were one of the first rodeos in this area to get going, and then others filled in the schedule after us. Some of their rodeos weren’t planned until July or August, so they got to keep their plans in place when we had to cancel ours. But it worked out.”

This item is reprinted with permission from the Whitecourt, AB, Whitecourt Press. For the complete article, click HERE

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