Time - Madison Hickey attempted to attain the fastest time in pole bending at Benalto Junior Rodeo last Friday. The junior rodeo preceded Benalto Pro Rodeo

Time - Madison Hickey attempted to attain the fastest time in pole bending at Benalto Junior Rodeo last Friday. The junior rodeo preceded Benalto Pro Rodeo

Benalto Pro Rodeo a success in its 97th year

Benalto Pro Rodeo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite now heading into its 98th year.

Benalto Pro Rodeo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite now heading into its 98th year.

With co-operative weather, a strong attendance and plenty of help from volunteers, this year’s 97th, which ran on the weekend, couldn’t have gone any better, according to rodeo manager John Bystrom.

“Weather is always the first thing,” he said. “If the weather co-operates, people come.”

Although final attendance numbers hadn’t been tallied at press time, Bystrom estimated them to be the event’s highest ever.

Entry numbers were also strong, and on par with previous years.

The rodeo weekend kicked off with the junior rodeo Friday, and ended Sunday afternoon.

While there were plenty of walk-in attendees, many chose to set up camp for the entire weekend.

“A lot of people do look forward to camping here,” said Bystrom. “That’s a large part of our whole weekend crowd.”

Saturday night’s rodeo performance was so well attended, there was “not a seat to be had, or a piece of grass” to sit on, he added.

The event is put on annually by Benalto Ag Society, with the help of various community groups and organizations such as Medicine River Pony Club, Shadow Riders 4-H Club and Benalto Booster Club.

“The ag society supports their groups, and in turn, they come and help give us some manpower at the rodeo, before, during and after,” said Bystrom.

Money raised through the rodeo is often put back into the community by the ag society.

This year should again prove successful in that regard, according to Bystrom.

“It looks like we had a really successful year,” he said. “We’ll be in the black, for sure.”

The rodeo has now been going strong since it was first held in 1917, and has been held annually ever since.

With the continued support and dedication of volunteers, there’s no reason why it can’t continue for years to come, Bystrom feels.

“(Volunteers are) the driving force behind any event like this,” he said. “We’ve got a really good group of people that work well together, and the dedication of volunteers is very apparent.”

Ensuring the rodeo remains fun for those volunteers is key to ensuring its continued longevity, he added.

“If it’s not fun for your volunteers to put on, it’s not worth doing. We’ve made it fun, and we still put on a quality rodeo.”

Unofficial results from the rodeo, as are available on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association website at www.rodeocanada.com/results.htm.