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Competition unites local farmers and ranchers

The Airdrie and District Agriculture Society is hosting the annual Ranch Hand Competition at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo grounds July 20. File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

The annual Ranch Hand Competition has been uniting local farmers and ranchers around Airdrie for years and, July 20, the Airdrie and District Agricultural Society will bring them together once more at the Airdrie Rodeo Grounds.

The “friendly competition,” according to organizer Kevin Fletcher, allows participants to demonstrate their talents under the pressure of the clock.

“It’s a fun event showcasing skills of working and ranching to display what they do everyday,” he said. “Of course, it’s timed, so it’s probably a little faster than how you’d normally do it, but it’s a fun event for ranchers to get together and have a little fun.”

Fletcher said ranch hand competitions do happen elsewhere, but are not commonly part of any circuits.

“Most of the people that [come], you wouldn’t see them for a year just because everybody is working,” he said. “It’s kind of a little break from day-to-day stuff – I guess it’s a break to go pretend to work.”

The competition simulates how a working ranch operates and spectators will see firsthand the cattle-handling skills used by area ranchers and farmers. The skills involved in the competition, according to Fletcher, include “branding,” team sorting, team penning, “doctoring” and trailer loading the cattle. Children can participate in a calf scramble, which involves kids running around the rodeo arena in an attempt to catch loose cattle.

He added the branding and doctoring events are both simulated – participants won’t actually brand or doctor the animals, but pen or rope them and mark them with chalk or paint.

This year, the event will feature around 15 teams competing in the various activities. Fletcher said many participants are from within an hour’s radius of the grounds, but occasionally, teams come from as far as west of Edmonton.

He added the event is free for anyone who wants to watch the competition and get a glimpse of life on the farm. A food truck will be on-site throughout the day, along with a small beer garden, and the event will cap off with a roast beef dinner.

For more information, visit and select the “Ranch Hand Competition” tab.

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