On June 9 and 10, the Eckville Community Rodeo will return to the arena to help raise funds to keep the arena running in Eckville. This year promises to be even bigger, with experienced bronc and bareback riders making their way to Eckville.
“It is a community rodeo and we are trying something a little new this year,” said Phillip Rodney, a member of the Eckville Arena Board. “We are putting a UBHA event on the Saturday Night. That is a new association in Canada – the United Bucking Horse Association. We will put it on the Saturday night so that we can get bareback and bronc riding for the crowd to watch.”
According to Rodney, this year promises to deliver some of the best young cowboys and cowgirls, as the dates have changed specifically.
“We changed the event day this year so that it doesn’t coincide with the High School Rodeo in Olds. That should help with our entries,” Rodney said.
Many of this year’s changes are the result of ongoing sponsorships, according to Rodney, who said, “We have a lot of new great sponsors this year – the Central Alberta Co-op is now a major sponsor this year.”
The sponsors have allowed the rodeo to bring in some of the province’s highest calibre of riders.
“With the UBHA, we will be getting some pretty good riders, because these guys pay the riders to get on their horses. There will be a few novice-pro and semi-pro guys,” he said. “It should be really good. It is the first year we are doing it – it is something new. It will be fairly small this year – hopefully we get six entries in each event.”
Eckville is also unique in that it remains an indoor rodeo – which allows the event to take place with no worries about the weather.
“The stock can be a little different – some stock definitely perform better in an inside event or outside,” Rodney said. “The plus side is that it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing.”
The main focus of the weekend is to help keep costs down at the Eckville Arena.
“It is a fundraising event for the arena, so everything from the Eckville Community Rodeo goes back to the arena,” Rodney said. “It is a really big part of the community, not just in the summertime, but in the winter as well. I would really like to thank our sponsors who have stuck with us. I know it has been a tough time economically the last couple years for everyone.”
Rodney also noted that the Arena Board has brought in a special guest to help guide the crowd along.
“We spent quite a bit more money this year on our announcer – Michael Bell. He announced a lot of pro rodeos and he is bringing a sound guy with him. We hope that helps with the atmosphere this year,” Rodney said, adding that the Eckville Ag Society has also done a lot of work for agriculture related matters over the course of the weekend.
Rodney is proud that the Eckville Arena remains a unique institution in Alberta.
“The one unique thing about the Eckville Arena Board is that it is only one of two arenas that are run like this – pretty much entirely on volunteer hours,” Rodney said. “It takes a lot to put a rodeo on. I used to be in a lot of rodeos but you get a whole new respect when you have to put one on – even one that is fairly small like this. It takes a lot of work and lot of people to put it together.”
Rodney added that the Eckville Rodeo is on the same day as the Rocky Pro-rodeo, which is a daytime event. This means that rodeo attendees would be able to attend Rocky during the day and Eckville during the evening, if they choose too.