Airdrie Pro Rodeo wraps up successful 45th year
Despite a foreboding forecast of thunderstorms, the sun shone down on the Airdrie Pro Rodeo, June 27 to July 1.
“All five days were awesome,” said Aaron Braham, president of the rodeo. “The crowds were great and Saturday night, we had the biggest (attendance) in three or four years.”
It was a mix of Americans and Albertans topping the leaderboards over the course of the weekend. Steven Peebles of Redmond, Ore. and Clayton Bunney of Cessford, Alta. both scored 85.5 points to win the bareback event, while Peebles’ fellow countryman and Oregonian Travis Carnine took the steer wrestling competition with a time of 3.6 seconds.
Dustin Flundra of Pincher Creek, Alta. was the top saddle bronc rider with a score of 83.5, while his sister, Nina Smith, also of Pincher Creek, won the ladies barrel racing with a time of 14.863 seconds. A pair of Texan ropers also took home top honours from the weekend, as E.J. Roberts of Stephenville, Tex. won the tie-down roping competition and Charly Crawford of Lipan, Tex., along with his partner, Jim Ross Cooper, of Monument, NM, were the champions in the team roping event.
Alberta stock contractors Calgary Stampede and Outlaw Buckers provided this year’s stock, which all competed without injury, and the same can be said about the more than 600 cowboys and cowgirls who competed in the rodeo.
“As far as I know, all the cowboys are down the road, healthy and having fun,” Braham said.
Staying true to previous years, the rodeo featured its traditional events and entertainment, including trick riders, the junior rodeo and the rodeo royalty crowing (see related story on page 12). At one point, patrons had to be turned away when the beer gardens reached capacity.
The June 30 intermission featured the presentation of the Pro Rodeo Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to arena manager, Russ Fletcher, who has been involved with the rodeo since its inception in 1967 (see photo on page 19). He won the bull riding competitions from 1979 to 1981, the wild cow milking in 1981, steer riding in 1977 and, most recently, the ranch hand competition in 2005. The award came as a surprise to Fletcher.
“It’s a great privilege,” he said. “It was a great deal for me growing up. My dad was involved and he did it for as long as I can remember. My family’s been at it for three generations now. It’s something to be involved in and with a great community. I enjoy the sport and the people that are with it.”
Braham said Fletcher’s award was well deserved.
“It’s become a way of life for him,” he said. “In my mind, there is nobody more deserving than Russ.”
As of press time, Braham and the association were waiting for official attendance numbers from the weekend, but he deemed it another success.
“We had some positive feedback, good stock and good cowboys,” he said.
“Overall, we had a good event. It’s just about trying to get a little bigger and a little better every year.”